Blood supply

An adequate supply of blood to the digestive system is essential to serve the normal metabolic functions and also to provide a route for nutrients to get from the digestive tract to the systemic circulation. The arteries supplying the abdominal organs of the digestive system are the coeliac and superior and inferior mesenteric arteries. The coeliac artery branches to give rise to the gastric, splenic and hepatic arteries that provide blood to the stomach, pancreas, spleen and liver. The mesenteric arteries supply the intestines.

The branches of the main arteries, which supply the gastrointestinal tract, give rise to smaller branches, which penetrate the organs. These smaller branches divide to give rise to an extensive network of arterioles in the submucosa. These in turn lead to mucosal arterioles, which supply blood to the capillaries.

Venous blood from the stomach, pancreas, spleen and liver is collected together and routed through the liver via the hepatic portal vein. Blood from the remainder of the digestive tract (oesophagus and rectum) escapes the hepatic filter and drains directly into the venous system.

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