Veins of the head and neck (overview)

The head and neck veins are an intricate network of blood vessels that drain deoxygenated blood from the mentioned regions and eventually return it to the right atrium of the heart


Veins of the head

Overall, the veins of the head can be subdivided into two groups - intracranial and extracranial veins. 

  • The intracranial veins are found within the cranial cavity, and they include various dural sinuses, diploic and emissary veins, as well as the meningeal, cerebral, and orbital veins. They play a crucial role in circulation, providing venous drainage from the tissue located within the head, including the brain.
  • In contrast, the extracranial veins are found outside the skull - they are positioned within the soft tissue of the head. Most of the extracranial veins accompany the same named arteries. Overall, they collect deoxygenated blood from the skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscles, internal organs, and other structures of the head.

In this article, we will review the extracranial veins of the head, such as the facial vein, lingual veins, superficial temporal vein, posterior auricular vein, occipital vein, retromandibular vein, and others.


Veins of the neck

The venous drainage of the neck is provided by the jugular venous system. Like the veins of the head, all neck veins can also be grouped into two groups - the superficial and the deep veins.

  • The superficial veins mainly collect venous blood from the skin and subcutaneous tissue. These include such veins as the anterior jugular veins (Read more!) and external jugular veins (Read more!). Overall, the superficial veins are found deep to the platysma.
  • The deep veins of the neck refer to the internal jugular veins (Read more!) and their tributaries. Most of the venous blood from the intracranial cavity, soft tissue, and organs of the head and neck are eventually drained into these vessels. Also, they are the most prominent veins of the neck. 

This article includes all the mentioned jugular veins. Additionally, it will review their main tributaries.


Note: Veins of the head and neck are highly variable blood vessels.