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Reflect the loops of small intestine superiorly and to the right. Palpate the underlying abdominal aorta and then remove the peritoneum that covers its surface. Identify the inferior mesenteric artery as it arises from the anterior aspect of the abdominal aorta at the level of the L3 vertebra (Figure 39.2). As the inferior mesenteric artery passes inferiorly and to the left, it gives off several principal branches. These include the left colic artery, several sigmoidal arteries, and the superior rectal artery, which is the terminal branch of the inferior mesenteric artery. The left colic artery divides into ascending branch and descending branch, which supply the distal one-third of the transverse colon and the descending colon. The sigmoidal arteries enter the root of the sigmoid mesocolon and supply the sigmoid colon. The superior rectal artery passes into the pelvic cavity and supplies the rectum and superior portion of the anal canal.
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