Thoracic splanchnic nerves

Last updated
Thoracic splanchnic nerves
The right sympathetic chain and its connections with the thoracic, abdominal, and pelvic plexuses. (Greater and lesser splanchnic nerves labeled at left.)
Abdominal portion of the sympathetic trunk, with the celiac and hypogastric plexuses. (Greater splanchnic and lowest splanchnic labeled at upper left. Greater splanchnic and lesser splanchnic labeled at upper right.)
From thoracic ganglia
MeSH D013153
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

Thoracic splanchnic nerves are splanchnic nerves that arise from the sympathetic trunk in the thorax and travel inferiorly to provide sympathetic innervation to the abdomen. The nerves contain preganglionic sympathetic fibers and general visceral afferent fibers.

Splanchnic nerves

The splanchnic nerves are paired visceral nerves, carrying fibers of the autonomic nervous system as well as sensory fibers from the organs. All carry sympathetic fibers except for the pelvic splanchnic nerves, which carry parasympathetic fibers.

Sympathetic trunk paired bundle of nerve fibers that run from the base of the skull to the coccyx

The sympathetic trunks are a paired bundle of nerve fibers that run from the base of the skull to the coccyx.

Thorax frontal part of an animals body, between its head and abdomen

The thorax or chest is a part of the anatomy of humans and various other animals located between the neck and the abdomen. The thorax includes the thoracic cavity and the thoracic wall. It contains organs including the heart, lungs, and thymus gland, as well as muscles and various other internal structures. Many diseases may affect the chest, and one of the most common symptoms is chest pain. The word thorax comes from the Greek θώραξ thorax "breastplate, cuirass, corslet" via Latin: thorax.


Main nerves

There are three main thoracic splanchnic nerves:

Greater [1] T5-T9 or T5-T10 [2] The greater splanchnic nerve travels through the diaphragm and enters the abdominal cavity, where its fibers synapse at the celiac ganglia. The nerve contributes to the celiac plexus, a network of nerves located in the vicinity of where the celiac trunk branches from the abdominal aorta. The fibers in this nerve modulate the activity of the enteric nervous system of the foregut. They also provide the sympathetic innervation to the adrenal medulla, stimulating catecholamine release.
Lesser [1] T9-T12, T9-T10, T10-T12, or T10-T11 [2] The lesser splanchnic nerve travels inferiorly, lateral to the greater splanchnic nerve. Its fibers synapse with their postganglionic counterparts in the superior mesenteric ganglia, or in the aorticorenal ganglion. The nerve modulates the activity of the enteric nervous system of the midgut.
Least [1] T12-L2, or T11-T12The least splanchnic nerve travels into the abdomen, where its fibers synapse in the renal ganglia.

Additional images

Thoracic cavity

The thoracic cavity is the chamber of the body of vertebrates that is protected by the thoracic wall. The central compartment of the thoracic cavity is the mediastinum. There are two openings of the thoracic cavity, a superior thoracic aperture known as the thoracic inlet and a lower inferior thoracic aperture known as the thoracic outlet.

Related Research Articles

Celiac plexus A complex network of nerves (a nerve plexus) located in the upper abdomen.

The celiac plexus or coeliac plexus, also known as the solar plexus because of its radiating nerve fibers, is a complex network of nerves located in the abdomen, near where the celiac trunk, superior mesenteric artery, and renal arteries branch from the abdominal aorta. It is behind the stomach and the omental bursa, and in front of the crura of the diaphragm, on the level of the first lumbar vertebra.

Inferior epigastric artery Blood vessel

In human anatomy, inferior epigastric artery refers to the artery that arises from the external iliac artery and anastomoses with the superior epigastric artery. Along its course, it is accompanied by a similarly named vein, the inferior epigastric vein. These epigastric vessels form the lateral border of Hesselbach's triangle, which outlines the area through which direct inguinal hernias protrude.

Prevertebral ganglia

Prevertebral ganglia are sympathetic ganglia which lie between the paravertebral ganglia and the target organ.

Renal plexus

The renal plexus is formed by filaments from the celiac ganglia and plexus, aorticorenal ganglia, lower thoracic splanchnic nerves and first lumbar splanchnic nerve and aortic plexus.

Abdominal aortic plexus

The abdominal aortic plexus is formed by branches derived, on either side, from the celiac plexus and ganglia, and receives filaments from some of the lumbar ganglia.

Superior hypogastric plexus

The superior hypogastric plexus is a plexus of nerves situated on the vertebral bodies anterior to the bifurcation of the abdominal aorta.

Celiac ganglia part of nervous system

The celiac ganglia or coeliac ganglia are two large irregularly shaped masses of nerve tissue in the upper abdomen. Part of the sympathetic subdivision of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), the two celiac ganglia are the largest ganglia in the ANS, and they innervate most of the digestive tract.

Sympathetic ganglion ganglia of the sympathetic nervous system

Sympathetic ganglia are the ganglia of the sympathetic nervous system. They deliver information to the body about stress and impending danger, and are responsible for the familiar fight-or-flight response. They contain approximately 20,000–30,000 nerve cell bodies and are located close to and on either side of the spinal cord in long chains. Sympathetic ganglia are the tissue from which neuroblastoma tumours arise.

Lateral grey column

The lateral grey column is one of the three grey columns of the spinal cord ; the others being the anterior and posterior grey columns. The lateral grey column is primarily involved with activity in the sympathetic division of the autonomic motor system. It projects to the side as a triangular field in the thoracic and upper lumbar regions of the postero-lateral part of the anterior grey column.

Aorticorenal ganglion

The aortiocorenal ganglion is composed of the superior mesenteric, renal, and inferior mesenteric ganglia. This is distinct from the celiac ganglia. However, they are part of the preaortic ganglia.

Superior mesenteric plexus

The superior mesenteric plexus is a continuation of the lower part of the celiac plexus, receiving a branch from the junction of the right vagus nerve with the plexus.

Inferior anal nerves

The Inferior rectal nerves usually branch from the pudendal nerve but occasionally arises directly from the sacral plexus; they cross the ischiorectal fossa along with the inferior rectal artery and veins, toward the anal canal and the lower end of the rectum, and is distributed to the Sphincter ani externus and to the integument (skin) around the anus.

Dorsal nerve of the penis

The dorsal nerve of the penis is the deepest division of the pudendal nerve; it accompanies the internal pudendal artery along the ramus of the ischium; it then runs forward along the margin of the inferior ramus of the pubis, between the superior and inferior layers of the fascia of the urogenital diaphragm.

Inferior hypogastric plexus

The inferior hypogastric plexus is a plexus of nerves that supplies the viscera of the pelvic cavity. The inferior hypogastric plexus gives rise to the prostatic plexus in males and the uterovaginal plexus in females.

Pelvic splanchnic nerves or nervi erigentes are splanchnic nerves that arise from sacral spinal nerves S2, S3, S4 to provide parasympathetic innervation to the hindgut.

Sacral splanchnic nerves

Sacral splanchnic nerves are splanchnic nerves that connect the inferior hypogastric plexus to the sympathetic trunk in the pelvis.

The lumbar splanchnic nerves are splanchnic nerves that arise from the lumbar part of the sympathetic trunk and travel to an adjacent plexus near the aorta. They originate from L1 and L2.

Esophageal plexus

The esophageal plexus is formed by nerve fibers from two sources, branches of the vagus nerve and visceral branches of the sympathetic trunk. The esophageal plexus and the cardiac plexus contain the same types of fibers and are both considered thoracic autonomic plexus(es).

Hypogastric nerve

The hypogastric nerve is the nerve that transitions between the superior hypogastric plexus and the inferior hypogastric plexus. The hypogastric nerve enters the sympathetic chain at T10-L2.


  1. 1 2 3 Moore, Keith (2018). Clinically Oriented Anatomy. Wolters Kluwer. pp. 59–61. ISBN   9781496347213.
  2. 1 2 thoraxlesson5 at The Anatomy Lesson by Wesley Norman (Georgetown University)