The right colic artery: An anatomical demonstration and its relevance in the laparoscopic era

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Hemicolectomies are not tailored in right-sided colon cancer resections, despite significant variation in the incidence and origin of the right colic artery (RCA). Early evidence suggests that removal of the relevant lymphovascular package and associated cancer as part of complete mesocolic excision (CME), rather than the entire right colon, may produce better outcomes. Advancing laparoscopic techniques are making this possible, and so it is increasingly important to more precisely define the anatomy of the RCA.


To demonstrate the incidence and variation of the RCA, 25 formalin embalmed cadavers were dissected. Consent to dissection and photography was obtained under Human Tissue Act regulations.


Eleven female and 14 male cadavers (mean age 79.7 years, range 41-95 years) were included. The RCA originated from the right branch of the middle colic artery in nine cadavers (36%), while it arose from the superior mesenteric artery in eight cases (32%) and from the ileocolic or root of the middle colic artery in a smaller number of specimens. The RCA was absent in two individuals.


The RCA arises from the right branch of the middle colic artery in a considerable number of cases. The literature to date does not reflect the precision of anatomical understanding required for CME; hence, a new definition for the right colic vessel is proposed.

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