Purpose: Although several types of surgical procedure have been advocated to date, the optimal resection of the left colonic angle in cancer treatment remains controversial. Located at the border of the transverse and descending colons, the anatomy of the left colonic angle is complex and characterized by numerous anatomic variations. Recent advances in preoperative (three-dimensional CT angiography with colonography) and/or intraoperative (indocyanine green staining) imaging have allowed for a better identification of these variations.

Methods: We performed a methodological review of studies assessing the anatomical variations of the left colic artery.

Results: While the left colonic angle is classically vascularized by branches of the superior and inferior mesenteric arteries, an accessory middle colonic artery has been identified from 6 % to 36% of cases, respectively, leading to their classification of five types. In the absence of a left colic artery, this artery becomes predominant. In parallel to the variations in the venous drainage of the left colonic angle, which has been classified into four types, new lymphatic drainage routes have also been identified via this accessory artery and the inferior mesenteric vein.

Conclusions: Collectively, these newly obtained findings plead for preoperative identification in cases of cancer of the left colonic angle and a surgical strategy adapted to these anatomical variations.


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