The innervation of the umbilical vein in human embryos and fetuses


  • This investigation was supported in part by grants from the Oregon Heart Association and U.S.P.H.S., HD 00186-14.


In human embryos and fetuses, a small bundle of nerve fibers from the anterior and posterior vagal trunks descends between the layers of the hepatogastric ligament. These fibers pass to the region of the junction of the umbilical vein with the ductus venosus. At this junction, there is a slight thickening of the muscular wall. Nerve fibers pass to this junction and the proximal portion of the umbilical vein.

Fibers from the posterior vagal trunk follow the left gastric artery to the celiac plexus. Fibers from this plexus follow the hepatic artery into the lesser omentum and along the portal vein to the liver. Continuing along the left branch of the portal vein, fibers reach the proximal portion of the umbilical vein and its junction with the ductus venosus.

Ganglion cells were observed along the course of vagus nerve fibers to the umbilical vein. In embryos these cells were observed on the lower end of the anterior vagal trunk near the attachment of the upper end of the lesser omentum to the lower end of the esophagus. In older fetuses they were found in a small ganglion in the connective tissue surrouding the distal end of the ductus venosus.