Choose article

Deep veins of upper limb

The deep veins of the upper limb are a group of veins in the upper extremity that lie underneath the deep fascia. The course of the deep veins corresponds to the course of arteries. A pair of deep veins accompany each artery of the upper limb until the axillary cavity, where two brachial veins (Latin: vv. brachiales) flow into one axillary vein (Latin: v. axillaris).

In the axilla (armpit), the axillary vein is located in a bundle of nerves and arteries. In this bundle, it lies most superficially and medially. The axillary vein reaches the cervical (neck) region, where it continues as the subclavian vein. The main tributaries of the axillary vein are as follows:

  • Anterior and posterior humeral circumflex veins - from the region of the surgical neck of the humerus;
  • Scapular circumflex vein - from the lateral side of the scapula;
  • Thoracodorsal vein - drains the latissimus dorsi muscle;
  • Lateral thoracic vein - mainly drains structures in the axilla and the anterolateral thoracic wall;
  • Subcutaneous veins, such as the:
    • Thoracoepigastric vein - from the anterior and lateral parts of the trunk (this vein more often is a tributary of the lateral thoracic vein);
    • Thoracoepigastric veins - collects blood from the abdominal region, these veins join with the superficial epigastric veins and form an anastomosis between the superior vena cava and the inferior vena cava systems;
  • Areolar venous plexus - collects blood from the mammary glands;
  • Thoracoacromial vein - sometimes enters the axillary vein by a common trunk with the cephalic vein, or drains into the cephalic vein instead;
  • Cephalic vein - a major superficial vein of the upper limb.