The colon is one of the three divisions of the large intestine. It has four sections, the largest of which is the transverse colon. The superior mesenteric artery supplies most of the oxygenated blood to the small intestine and the transverse colon. It has five branches. The middle colic artery is one of those branches.
This artery begins just below the pancreas. It runs through the transverse colon and divides into two branches. The right branch eventually merges with the right colic artery. The left branch merges with the left colic artery. These merges, known as anastomoses, form arches located close to the transverse colon. Additional smaller branches arise from these points and supply blood to the transverse colon.
For reasons that are not completely understood, the superior mesenteric artery and its branches do not experience much atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Ischemic colitis is a life-threatening condition that may arise as a result of injury and inflammation of the large intestine caused by inadequate blood supply. A problem with any of the arteries supplying the colon, including the middle colic artery, can lead to this condition.