The abdominal aorta supplies oxygenated blood to the lower half of the body, including the abdominal and pelvic organs. This part of the aorta begins at the diaphragm and extends to the pelvis, where it splits into the two iliac arteries that provide blood to the legs.
The blood supply comes from the left ventricle of the heart, travels through the ascending aorta, the aortic arch, which curves over the heart, and then through the descending thoracic aorta. These three aortic sections provide blood to the heart, the head, neck and arms, the ribs and adjacent structures.
As the blood travels down the abdominal aorta, it branches off into smaller vessels and capillaries. These smaller pathways deliver blood to the intestines, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, spleen, stomach and pancreas. As the blood moves into the iliac arteries, it also gets funneled into smaller vessels and capillaries to supply the pelvic region as well as the muscles, bones, tendons and skin of the legs.
The deoxygenated blood is directed to the iliac veins, which carry it back to the heart via the inferior vena cava. The blood goes to the right atrium, is pumped with new oxygen and goes back into the left ventricle. Then the cycle begins again.