Great and small saphenous veins

The great and small saphenous veinsAnatomical features of the great and small saphenous veins, their tributaries and outflow areas
~ 3 min

In this note, we will consider the anatomy of the small and great saphenous veins of the lower limb, as well as the areas of blood drainage, anastomoses, and their clinical significance.

The small saphenous vein of the lower limb (v. saphena parva) is a continuation of the lateral marginal vein of the foot and has many valves.

Lower limb (v. saphena parva)
Lower limb (v. saphena parva)

It drains blood from the dorsal venous arch and subcutaneous veins of the sole, the lateral part of the foot and the heel region.

It follows behind the lateral malleolus upwards, then lies in the groove between the lateral and medial heads of the gastrocnemius muscle, and passes into the popliteal fossa, where it ends by the popliteal vein (v. poplitea).

Popliteal vein (v. poplitea)
Popliteal vein (v. poplitea)

Numerous superficial veins of the posterolateral side of the leg end by the small saphenous vein of the leg. Its tributaries have many anastomoses with deep veins and with a great saphenous vein of the leg.

The great saphenous vein of the lower limb (v. saphena magna) is the largest vein of the human body.

It arises in front of the medial ankle from the medial marginal vein of the foot.

Lower limb (v. saphena magna)
Lower limb (v. saphena magna)

It passes next to the saphenous nerve up the medial side of the leg. It circumflexes the medial condyle of the thigh from behind, and crosses the sartorius muscle. Then it passes along the anteromedial side of the thigh to the saphenous opening, circumflexes the falciform margin, pierces the cribriform fascia, and ends by the femoral vein.

Lower limb (v. saphena magna)
Lower limb (v. saphena magna)

On the way to the femoral vein, the following veins end by the large saphenous vein:

  1. External pudendal veins (vv. pudendae externae);

    External pudendal veins (vv. pudendae externae)
    External pudendal veins (vv. pudendae externae)
  2. The superficial circumflex iliac vein (v. circumflexa iliaca superficialis);

    Superficial circumflex iliac vein (v. circumflexa iliaca superficialis)
    Superficial circumflex iliac vein (v. circumflexa iliaca superficialis)
  3. The superficial epigastric vein (v. epigastrica superficialis);

    Superficial epigastric vein (v. epigastrica superficialis)
    Superficial epigastric vein (v. epigastrica superficialis)
  4. Dorsal superficial veins of the penis (clitoris) (vv. dorsales superficiales penis-clitoridis);

    Dorsal superficial veins of the penis (vv. dorsales superficiales penis)
    Dorsal superficial veins of the penis (vv. dorsales superficiales penis)
  5. Anterior scrotal (labial) veins (vv. scrotales (labiales) anteriores).

Anterior scrotal veins (vv. scrotales anteriores)
Anterior scrotal veins (vv. scrotales anteriores)

CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Varicose veins: The small saphenous vein is a superficial vein. Deep veins (posterior tibial, anterior tibial, fibular, popliteal, femoral) are separated from the superficial veins b series of valves. These valves provide blood flow from the superficial system to the deep system and prevent retrograde blood flow. The failure of these valves leads to convoluted veins, called varicose veins.

Removal of varicose veins: if the presence of varicose veins causes problems, endovenous thermal ablation of the veins can be performed. This procedure is sometimes associated with complications due to the proximity of neighboring structures, such as the sural nerve. Indications for surgery:

  • pain;

  • ulcerative skin changes;

  • cosmetic reasons.

Dictionary

The great and small saphenous veins

Small saphenous vein
v. saphena parva
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