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Introduction: Renal arteries are paired end arteries branched from abdominal aorta at the level of first lumbar vertebra (L1) and second lumbar vertebra (L2), which consumes around 20% of the cardiac output. Due to embryological and racial reasons variation in distribution of the renal artery is common. The aim of the present study is to describe the origin, distribution and possible variations of renal arteries.
Methods and materials: Observational based study was conducted by using 30 cadavers (60 sides) obtained from the Department of Human Anatomy of six Ethiopian Medical Schools. Data analysis was conducted using thematic approaches.
Results: Forty-seven percent of the main renal artery originates at the level of L1 from the abdominal aorta. Of the 10 (33.3%) accessory renal arteries, 7(63.63%) and 3 (27.27%) were identified on the left and right sides respectively.
Conclusions: The variations of the main renal arteries mainly revolved around the level of origin and manifested prehilar branching pattern while entering into the kidney parenchyma. Another commonly observed variation was the existence of an accessory renal artery in different patterns. Hence, knowledge of renal vascular pattern and possible variations is very important in clinical and surgical procedures mainly during renal transplantation and other vascular interventions.