The splenic artery, [a. splenica, ], in the adult the largest branch of the coeliac artery, is destined to supply the spleen, and in part the stomach and pancreas. It is directed horizontally towards the left side.
Waving and often tortuous in its course, it passes, together with the splenic vein, which is below it, behind the upper border of the pancreas, and divides near the spleen into several branches. Some of these enter the fissure in that organ, and are distributed to its substance ; three or four are reflected towards the bulging end of the stomach, upon which they ramify. Its branches are the following :
The pancreatic branches [a. pancreaticae] , variable in size and number, are given off whilst the artery is passing along the pancreas, the middle and left part of which they supply with vessels. One of larger size not infrequently runs from left to right, in the direction of the pancreatic duct, and is called pancreatica magna.
The splenic branches are the proper terminal branches of the artery; they are five or six, or even more in number, and vary in length and size ; they enter the spleen by the hilus or fissure in its concave surface, and ramify within that organ.
The gastric branches, (vasa brevia,) [s. a. gastricae breves,] vary from five to seven in number ; they are directed from left to right, some issuing from the trunk of the splenic artery, others from its terminal branches. Enclosed within the gastro-splenic omentum, they reach the left extremity of the stomach, where they divide and spread out between its coats, communicating with the coronary and left gastroepiploic arteries.
The left gastroepiploic artery [a. gastro-epiploica sinistra] , runs from left to right along the great curvature of the stomach, and inosculates with the right gastro-epiploic branch from the hepatic artery. In its course, this vessel lies between the layers of the peritoneum at the great border of the stomach, and gives several long and slender branches downwards to the omentum, and others upwards to both surfaces of the stomach, where they communicate with the other gastric arteries.