Superior vena cava

The superior vena cavaAnatomical features of the superior vena cava, its tributaries and venous outflow areas
~ 3 min

In this video we will consider the anatomical features of the superior vena cava system.

The superior vena cava (vena cava superior) is one of the largest veins in our body.

Superior vena cava (vena cava superior)
Superior vena cava (vena cava superior)

It is located in the mediastinum, has no valves, drains blood from the head, neck, and superior half of the trunk, including the upper limbs.

Superior vena cava (vena cava superior)
Superior vena cava (vena cava superior)

It is formed by the fusion of two brachiocephalic veins (v. brachiocephalica dextra et v. brachiocephalica sinistra) at the junction of the first rib with the sternum. At the level of the third rib, it ends by the right atrium.

Brachiocephalic vein (left) (vv. brachiocephalicae dextra)
Brachiocephalic vein (left) (vv. brachiocephalicae dextra)
Brachiocephalic vein (right) (vv. brachiocephalicae sinistra)
Brachiocephalic vein (right) (vv. brachiocephalicae sinistra)

The brachiocephalic veins are formed from the subclavian vein (v. subclavia) and the internal jugular vein (v. jugularis interna) on the right and left, respectively.

Subclavian vein (v. subclavia)
Subclavian vein (v. subclavia)
Internal jugular vein (v. jugularis interna)
Internal jugular vein (v. jugularis interna)

They are large valveless muscular veins.

Major tributaries of the brachiocephalic veins are the following veins:

  1. The vertebral vein (v.vertebralis), which passes along the vertebral column through the foramina transversaria of the vertebrae. It accompanies the artery of the same name. The internal vertebral plexuses end by it.

    Vertebral vein (v.vertebralis)
    Vertebral vein (v.vertebralis)
  2. The deep cervical vein (v.cervicalis profunda) is located behind the transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae. It drains blood from the muscles and fascia of the occipital region.

Deep cervical vein (v.cervicalis profunda)
Deep cervical vein (v.cervicalis profunda)

The right and left brachiocephalic veins also drain blood from the thoracic organs.

The main major tributaries of the superior vena cava include the following veins:

  1. The azygos vein (v. azygos)

    Azygos vein (v. azygos)
    Azygos vein (v.azygos)
    Azygos vein (v. azygos)
    Azygos vein (v.azygos)
  2. The hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)

    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
  3. Posterior intercostal veins (vv. intercostales posteriores)

    Posterior intercostal veins (vv. inlercostales posteriores)
    Posterior intercostal veins (vv. inlercostales posteriores)
  4. Internal thoracic vein (v.thoracica interna)

    Internal thoracic vein (v.thoracica interna)
    Internal thoracic vein (v.thoracica interna)
  5. Internal (anterior and posterior) vertebral venous plexuses (plexus venosi vertebrales interni (anterior et posterior))

Internal vertebral venous plexuses (anterior) (plexus venosi vertebrales interni)
Internal vertebral venous plexuses (anterior) (plexus venosi vertebrales interni)
Internal vertebral venous plexuses (posterior) (plexus venosi vertebrales interni)
Internal vertebral venous plexuses (posterior) (plexus venosi vertebrales interni)

Let’s consider them in greater detail:

  1. The azygos vein (v.azygos) is a large muscular venous vessel, which contains valves. It arises from the right ascending lumbar vein (v. lumbalis ascendens dextra).

    Azygos vein (v.azygos)
    Azygos vein (v.azygos)
    Azygos vein (v.azygos)
    Azygos vein (v.azygos)
    Right ascending lumbar vein (v. lumbalis ascendens dextra)
    Right ascending lumbar vein (v. lumbalis ascendens dextra)

    In turn, this vein anastomoses with the right lumbar veins (v. lumbalis dextra), which end by the inferior vena cava.

    Right lumbar veins (v. lumbalis dextra),
    Right lumbar veins (v. lumbalis dextra),

    The hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos) and the veins of the following thoracic cavity end by the azygos vein:

    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
    • the right superior intercostal vein (v. intercostales dexter superior)

      Right superior intercostal vein (v. intercostalis superior dextra)
      Right superior intercostal vein (v. intercostalis superior dextra)
    • 4th-11th posterior intercostal veins (vv. intercostales IV—XI posterior)

      4th-11th posterior intercostal veins (vv. inlercostales IV—XI posteriores)
      4th-11th posterior intercostal veins (vv. inlercostales IV—XI posteriores)
    • esophageal veins (vv. oesophageales)

    • bronchial veins (vv. bronchiales)

      Bronchial veins (vv. bronchiales)
      Bronchial veins (vv. bronchiales)
    • pericardial veins (vv pericardiacae)

    • mediastinal veins (vv. mediastinales)

      Mediastinal veins (vv. mediastinales)
      Mediastinal veins (vv. mediastinales)
  2. The hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos) arises from the left ascending lumbar vein (v. lumbalis ascendens sinistra) and passes to the left of the aorta and in front of the left posterior intercostal arteries. It ends by the azygos vein.

    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
    Hemi-azygos vein (v. hemiazygos)
    Left ascending lumbar vein (v. lumbalis ascendens sinistra)
    Left ascending lumbar vein (v. lumbalis ascendens sinistra)

    Tributaries of the hemi-azygos vein are:

    • the accessory hemi-zygos vein (v.hemiazygos accessoria), by which the superior posterior intercostal veins end

      Accessory hemi-zygos vein (v. hemiazygos accessoria)
      Accessory hemi-zygos vein (v. hemiazygos accessoria)
    • esophageal veins (vv.oesophageales)

      Esophageal veins (vv.oesophageales)
      Esophageal veins (vv.oesophageales)
    • mediastinal veins (vv.mediastinales)

  3. Posterior intercostal veins (vv. inlercostales posteriores) are located parallel to the arteries of the same name. They end by the azygos and hemi-azygos veins and communicate with the anterior intercostal veins.

    Posterior intercostal veins (vv. inlercostales posteriores)
    Posterior intercostal veins (vv. inlercostales posteriores)
  4. The internal thoracic vein (v. thoracica interna) is accompanied by the internal thoracic artery along the edge of the sternum. It is formed by the confluence of the superior epigastric vein (v. epigastrica superior) and the musculophrenic vein (v. musculophrenica).

Internal thoracic vein (v. thoracica interna)
Internal thoracic vein (v. thoracica interna)
Superior epigastric vein (v. epigastrica superior)
Superior epigastric vein (v. epigastrica superior)

5. Internal (anterior and posterior) vertebral venous plexuses (plexus venosi vertebrales interni (anterior et posterior)) pass inside the vertebral canal. They are formed by multiple anastomoses. These plexuses drain blood from the spinal veins and the veins of the spongy bone of the vertebrae.

Internal vertebral venous plexuses (plexus venosi vertebrales interni anterior)
Internal vertebral venous plexuses (plexus venosi vertebrales interni anterior)
Internal vertebral venous plexuses (plexus venosi vertebrales interni posterior)
Internal vertebral venous plexuses (plexus venosi vertebrales interni posterior)

Venous outflow from the upper limbs is also carried out into the superior vena cava system. Through the superficial and deep groups of veins. The superficial tributaries of the veins of the upper limb include:

  • the cephalic vein (v. cephalica) is formed from the radial part of the veins of the dorsum of the hand.

    Cephalic vein (v. cephalica)
    Cephalic vein (v. cephalica)
  • the basilic vein (v. basilica) arises from the dorsal metacarpal vein.

    Basilic vein (v. basilica)
    Basilic vein (v. basilica)

    The deep tributaries of the veins of the upper limb include:

  • the radial vein (v. radialis), which arises from the deep venous palmar arch.

    Radial vein (vv. radiales)
    Radial vein (vv. radiales)
  • the ulnar vein (v. ulnaris), which arises from the deep venous palmar arch.

    Ulnar vein (vv. ulnares)
    Ulnar vein (vv. ulnares)
  • the brachial vein (v. brachialis), which is formed by the confluence of the radial and ulnar veins.

    Brachial vein (vv. brachiales)
    Brachial vein (vv. brachiales)
  • the axillary vein (v. axillaris) is a continuation of the brachial vein.

    Axillary vein (v. axillaris)
    Axillary vein (v. axillaris)
  • the subclavian vein (v.subclavia) aries from the axillary vein.

Subclavian vein (v. subclavia)
Subclavian vein (v. subclavia)
Dictionary

The superior vena cava

Superior vena cava
vena cava superior
Right and leftbrachiocephalic veins
vv. brachiocephalicae dextra et sinistra
Vertebral vein
v. vertebralis
Deep vein of the neck
v. cervicalis profunda
Azygos vein
v. azygos
Right ascending lumbar vein
v. lumbalis ascendens dextra
Right lumbar vein
v. lumbalis dextra
Right superior intercostal vein
v. intercostalis dextra superior
Posterior intercostal veins IV—XI
vv. intercostales IV—XIposteriores
Hemi-azygos vein
v. hemiazygos
Left ascending lumbar vein
v. lumbalis ascendens sinistra
Accessory hemi-azygos vein
v. hemiazygos accessoria
Mediastinal veins
vv. mediastinales
Posterior intercostal veins
vv. intercostales posteriores
Intervertebral vein
v. intervertebralis
Internal thoracic vein
v. thoracica interna
Superior epigastric veins
v. epigastrica superior
Internal vertebral venous plexuses
plexus venosi vertebrates interni
External venous vertebral plexuses
plexus venosi vertebrates externi
Lumbar veins
vv. lumbales
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