A reappraisal of pediatric abdominal surface anatomy

Clin Anat. 2022 Jan;35(1):103-115. doi: 10.1002/ca.23802. Epub 2021 Oct 26.


Surface anatomy is fundamental to clinical and surgical practices. As the surface anatomy varies with age, the purpose of this study is to provide age-standardized surface markings for the abdomen in children. A total of 155 abdominal computed tomography scans of healthy children aged 0-18 years were categorized into six groups, and the surface anatomy of the major vascular structures, solid viscera, and anatomical planes in the abdomen was analyzed. The vertebral levels of the celiac trunk, superior mesenteric artery, and hepatic portal vein formation were higher in the youngest age group, whereas the levels of the inferior mesenteric artery, formation of the inferior vena cava, and renal arteries did not differ with age. The right kidney lay between T12 and L3 and the left at T11-L3; however, both kidneys were in lower positions in younger children. The spleen was most commonly located between the 8th and 11th ribs except in toddlers. In all age groups, the hepatic portal vein formation was within the transpyloric plane and the aortic bifurcation was above the supracristal plane. In vivo reassessment of the surface anatomy enables the substantial variability of surface landmarks to be highlighted. This study demonstrates that taking account of age-related variations will increase the accuracy and therefore the clinical relevance of surface anatomy.

Keywords: abdomen; kidney; pediatric anatomy; renal artery; spleen; surface anatomy.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen* / diagnostic imaging
  • Abdominal Cavity*
  • Aorta, Abdominal
  • Humans
  • Kidney
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed