Arterial anatomy of the anterior abdominal wall: ultrasound evaluation as a real-time guide to percutaneous instrumentation

Alexander Le Saint-Grant, Alasdair Taylor, Ourania Varsou, Calum Grant, Enis Cezayirli, James Bowness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)



Instrumenting the anterior abdominal wall carries a potential for vascular trauma. We previously assessed the presence, position, and size of the anterior abdominal wall superior and inferior (deep) epigastric arteries with computed tomography (CT). We now present a study using ultrasound (US) assessment of these arteries, to evaluate its use for real time guidance of percutaneous procedures involving the rectus sheath.

Materials and Methods

Twenty‐four participants (mean age 67.9 ± 9 years, 15 M:9 F [62:38%]) were assessed with US at three axial planes on the anterior abdominal wall: transpyloric plane (TPP), umbilicus, and anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS).


An artery was visible least frequently at the TPP (62.5 – 45.8%), compared with the umbilicus (95.8–100%) and ASIS (100%), on the left, χ2(2) = 20.571; p < .001, and right, χ2(2) = 27.842; p < .001, with a moderate strength association (Cramer's V = 0.535 [left] and 0.622 [right]). Arteries were most commonly observed within the rectus abdominis muscle at the level of the TPP and umbilicus, but posterior to the muscle at the level of the ASIS (95.8–100%). As with the CT study, the inferior epigastric artery was observed to be larger in diameter, start more laterally, and move medially as it coursed superiorly.


These data corroborate our previous results and suggest that the safest level to instrument the rectus sheath (with respect to vascular anatomy) is at the TPP. Such information may be particularly relevant to anesthetists performing rectus sheath block and surgeons during laparoscopic port insertion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-10
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number1
Early online date8 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Anatomical variation
  • Complications
  • Epigastric artery
  • Rectus sheath block
  • Ultrasound


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