Thoracic splanchnic nerves

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.

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.)
Fromthoracic ganglia
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

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


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