UAMS Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences - Veins of the Head and Neck

Gross Anatomy


NOTE: Many veins follow the branching and distribution pattern of the artery of the same name. This table contains veins that do not travel with an artery of the same name, or that run an independent course from the artery of the same name. See also: Artery Tables.

Selected Veins of the Head and Neck - Listed Alphabetically

Vein Tributaries Drains Into Regions Drained Notes
angular v. supraorbital v., supratrochlear v. facial vein at the inferior margin of the orbit forehead; upper eyelid; root of the nose angular v. is valveless; it connects with the superior and inferior ophthalmic vv. and can be a source of superficial infectious materials entering the cavernous sinus by this route
anterior jugular v. submental v, communicating v. external jugular v. superficial parts of the anterior neck anterior jugular v. is valveless
auricular, posterior small veins of the subcutaneous tissues behind the ear, stylomastoid v. it unites with the posterior division of the retromandibular v. to form the external jugular region behind the ear posterior auricular v. communicates with the occipital v. behind the ear
basilar venous plexus superior and inferior petrosal sinuses internal vertebral venous plexus cavernous sinus basilar venous plexus is variable; it communicates connects with other small intracranial sinuses that are located nearby
brachiocephalic v. formed by the union of the subclavian v. and the internal jugular v.; tributaries: vertebral v., thymic v., inferior thyroid v., internal thoracic v., 1st posterior intercostal v., left superior intercostal v. (to the left brachiocephalic v.) the left and right brachiocephalic vv. unite to form the superior vena cava head; neck; upper limb; anterior chest wall at its origin, the left brachiocephalic v. receives the thoracic duct; at its origin, the right brachiocephalic v. receives the right lymphatic duct
cavernous sinus superior ophthalmic v., cerebral vv., sphenoparietal sinus superior petrosal sinus, inferior petrosal sinus orbit, brain cavernous sinus lies between the cranial and meningeal layers of the dura mater beside the body of the sphenoid bone; cranial nn. III, IV and V1 are in its lateral wall; the internal carotid a. and cranial n. VI are in its lumen
cerebral, great formed by the union of the paired internal cerebral vv. straight sinus deep portions of the cerebrum great cerebral v. is a very short vessel
cerebral, inferior tributaries are unnamed cavernous sinus, transverse sinus, superior petrosal sinus inferior aspect of the cerebral hemispheres inferior cerebral vv. are numerous
cerebral, superior tributaries are unnamed superior sagittal sinus superior aspect of the cerebral hemispheres superior cerebral vv. bleed into the subdural space when injured, resulting in a subdural hematoma; also known as: bridging vv.
common facial formed by the union of the anterior division of the retromandibular v. and the facial v. internal jugular v. face and anterior scalp common facial v. may receive drainage from the lingual v.
confluens of sinuses formed by the joining of the superior sagittal sinus, straight sinus and occipital sinus transverse sinuses all parts of the brain confluens of sinuses lies on the inner surface of the occipital bone; it is between the layers of dura at the junction of the falx cerebri and tentorium cerebelli
deep facial v. facial v. pterygoid venous plexus face deep facial v. is valveless
diploic vv. multiple veins draining the diploe of the skull: frontal diploic, anterior temporal diploic, posterior temporal diploic, occipital diploic meningeal vv.; dural venous sinuses; veins of the scalp bones of the cranial vault diploic vv. connect the venous system of the scalp with the dural sinuses and meningeal vv.
emissary vv. veins of the scalp veins of the scalp; dural venous sinuses scalp emissary vv. are valveless and can carry blood from superficial to deep or in the reverse direction depending on blood pressure; may carry superficial infectious materials into the dural venous sinuses; there are 4 named emissary vv.: parietal, mastoid, occipital and condyloid; superior ophthalmic v. also acts as an emissary v.
external jugular v. formed by the joining of the retromandibular and posterior auricular vv.; tributaries: posterior external jugular v., transverse cervical v., suprascapular v., anterior jugular v. subclavian v. head & neck, shoulder external jugular v. contains valves that may not be fully functional
facial, deep facial v. pterygoid venous plexus face deep facial v. is valveless
facial, common formed by the union of the anterior division of the retromandibular v. and the facial v. internal jugular v. face and anterior scalp common facial v. may receive drainage from the lingual v.
inferior ophthalmic v. ciliary vv., veins from the muscles of the inferior part of the orbit superior ophthalmic v. inferior portion of the orbit valveless; inferior ophthalmic v. connects with the pterygoid plexus through the inferior orbital fissure
inferior petrosal sinus cavernous sinus sigmoid sinus, at its distal end all regions drained by the cavernous sinus, including the orbit and brain inferior petrosal sinus lies within the dura mater along the inferior portion of the petrous part of the temporal bone
inferior sagittal sinus unnamed tributaries from the falx cerebri and cerebral hemispheres unites with the great cerebral v. to form the straight sinus medial surfaces fo the cerebral hemispheres inferior sagittal sinus is directly superior to the corpus callosum in the free margin of falx cerebri
inferior thyroid v. numerous tributaries from the thyroid gland, esophageal v, tracheal v., inferior laryngeal v. left and right brachiocephalic vv. inferior part of the thyroid gland inferior thyroid vv. descend on the anterior surface of the trachea
internal jugular v. formed at the base of the skull where the sigmoid sinus ends; tributaries: pharyngeal vv.; lingual v., common facial v., sternocleidomastoid v., superior thyroid v, middle thyroid v. brachiocephalic v. brain, cranial cavity, skull, face, viscera of the neck internal jugular is the largest vein of the nead and neck
jugular, anterior submental v, communicating v. external jugular v. superficial parts of the anterior neck anterior jugular v. is valveless
jugular, external formed by the joining of the retromandibular and posterior auricular vv.; tributaries: posterior external jugular v., transverse cervical v., suprascapular v., anterior jugular v. subclavian v. head & neck, shoulder external jugular v. contains valves that may not be fully functional
jugular, internal formed at the base of the skull where the sigmoid sinus ends; tributaries: pharyngeal vv.; lingual v., common facial v., sternocleidomastoid v., superior thyroid v, middle thyroid v. brachiocephalic v. brain, cranial cavity, skull, face, viscera of the neck internal jugular is the largest vein of the nead and neck
jugular, posterior external unnamed veins of the occipital region and superior neck external jugular v. superficial parts of the posterior head and neck posterior external jugular v. may join the external jugular v. at a variable level
middle thyroid v. numerous tributaries from the thyroid gland internal jugular v. lateral aspect of the thyroid gland middle thyroid v. crosses superficial to the common carotid a.
occipital sinus no named tributaries confluens of sinuses cerebellum lies within the dura mater at the base of the falx cerebelli
ophthalmic, inferior ciliary vv., veins from the muscles of the inferior part of the orbit superior ophthalmic v. inferior portion of the orbit valveless; inferior ophthalmic v. connects with the pterygoid plexus through the inferior orbital fissure
ophthalmic, superior nasofrontal v., anterior ethmoidal v., posterior ethmoidal v., ciliary vv., central retinal v., lacrimal v., inferior ophthalmic v. cavernous sinus eyeball, superior portion of the orbit, ethmoidal air cells, forehead valveless; superior ophthalmic v. communicates with the angular v.
petrosal sinus, inferior cavernous sinus sigmoid sinus, at its distal end all regions drained by the cavernous sinus, including the orbit and brain inferior petrosal sinus lies within the dura mater along the inferior portion of the petrous part of the temporal bone
petrosal sinus, superior cavernous sinus sigmoid sinus, at its proximal end all regions drained by the cavernous sinus, including the orbit and brain superior petrosal sinus lies on the petrous ridge within the dura mater at the line of attachment of the tentorium cerebelli
pharyngeal venous plexus unnamed tributaries that drain the pharyngeal wall internal jugular pharynx connects with the pterygoid venous plexus
plexus, basilar venous superior and inferior petrosal sinuses internal vertebral venous plexus cavernous sinus basilar venous plexus is variable; it communicates connects with other small intracranial sinuses that are located nearby
plexus, pharyngeal venous unnamed tributaries that drain the pharyngeal wall internal jugular pharynx connects with the pterygoid venous plexus
plexus, pterygoid venous descending palatine v., sphenopalatine v., infraorbital v., posterior superior alveolar v., anterior deep temporal v., posterior deep temporal v., middle meningeal v., masseteric v., inferior alveolar v. maxillary v. meninges, nasal cavity, infratemporal fossa valveless; the pterygoid plexus is connected with the cavernous sinus and the pharyngeal venous plexus
plexus, vertebral venous, external intervertebral vv. adjacent segmental vv.; vertebral v. in the cervical region vertebral column and associated muscles two plexuses are described: anterior and posterior; connects with the internal vertebral venous plexus
plexus, vertebral venous, internal anterior and posterior longitudinal vertebral sinuses adjacent segmental vv. spinal cord, meninges, vertebral column connects with the external vertebral venous plexuses; valveless; a route for potential spread of metastases from the pelvis to the brain
posterior auricular v. small veins of the subcutaneous tissues behind the ear, stylomastoid v. it unites with the posterior division of the retromandibular v. to form the external jugular region behind the ear posterior auricular v. communicates with the occipital v. behind the ear
posterior external jugular v. unnamed veins of the occipital region and superior neck external jugular v. superficial parts of the posterior head and neck posterior external jugular v. may join the external jugular v. at a variable level
retromandibular v. formed by the union of the superficial temporal v. and maxillary v. anterior and posterior divisions of the retromandibular v. side of the head and scalp; deep face retromandibular v. is contained within the parotid gland; anterior division unites with the facial v. to form the common facial v.; posterior division unites with the posterior auricular v. to form the external jugular v.
sigmoid sinus transverse sinus, superior petrosal sinus internal jugular v. brain; meninges sigmoid sinus lies within the sigmoid groove covered by dura mater
sinus, cavernous superior ophthalmic v., cerebral vv., sphenoparietal sinus superior petrosal sinus, inferior petrosal sinus orbit, brain cavernous sinus lies between the cranial and meningeal layers of the dura mater beside the body of the sphenoid bone; cranial nn. III, IV and V1 are in its lateral wall; the internal carotid a. and cranial n. VI are in its lumen
sinus, inferior petrosal cavernous sinus sigmoid sinus, at its distal end all regions drained by the cavernous sinus, including the orbit and brain inferior petrosal sinus lies within the dura mater along the inferior portion of the petrous part of the temporal bone
sinus, inferior sagittal unnamed tributaries from the falx cerebri and cerebral hemispheres unites with the great cerebral v. to form the straight sinus medial surfaces fo the cerebral hemispheres inferior sagittal sinus is directly superior to the corpus callosum in the free margin of falx cerebri
sinus, occipital no named tributaries confluens of sinuses cerebellum lies within the dura mater at the base of the falx cerebelli
sinus, sigmoid transverse sinus, superior petrosal sinus internal jugular v. brain; meninges sigmoid sinus lies within the sigmoid groove covered by dura mater
sinus, straight inferior sagittal sinus, great cerebral vein, superior cerebellar vv. confluens of sinuses deep parts of the cerebrum, cerebellum straight sinus lies within the junction of the falx cerebri and tentorium cerebelli; also known as: sinus rectus
sinus, superior petrosal cavernous sinus sigmoid sinus, at its proximal end all regions drained by the cavernous sinus, including the orbit and brain superior petrosal sinus lies on the petrous ridge within the dura mater at the line of attachment of the tentorium cerebelli
sinus, superior sagittal v. of the foramen cecum; superior cerebral vv. confluens of sinuses cerebral hemispheres superior sagittal sinus occupies the superior part of the falx cerebri; lateral lacunae receive grossly visible arachnoid granulations
sinus, transverse confluens of sinuses, inferior cerebral vv. sigmoid sinus brain lies within the line of attachment of the tentorium cerebelli to the inner surface of the calvaria
sinuses, confluens of formed by the joining of the superior sagittal sinus, straight sinus and occipital sinus transverse sinuses all parts of the brain confluens of sinuses lies on the inner surface of the occipital bone; it is between the layers of dura at the junction of the falx cerebri and tentorium cerebelli
straight sinus inferior sagittal sinus, great cerebral vein, superior cerebellar vv. confluens of sinuses deep parts of the cerebrum, cerebellum straight sinus lies within the junction of the falx cerebri and tentorium cerebelli; also known as: sinus rectus
superior ophthalmic v. nasofrontal v., anterior ethmoidal v., posterior ethmoidal v., ciliary vv., central retinal v., lacrimal v., inferior ophthalmic v. cavernous sinus eyeball, superior portion of the orbit, ethmoidal air cells, forehead valveless; superior ophthalmic v. communicates with the angular v.
superior petrosal sinus cavernous sinus sigmoid sinus, at its proximal end all regions drained by the cavernous sinus, including the orbit and brain superior petrosal sinus lies on the petrous ridge within the dura mater at the line of attachment of the tentorium cerebelli
superior sagittal sinus v. of the foramen cecum; superior cerebral vv. confluens of sinuses cerebral hemispheres superior sagittal sinus occupies the superior part of the falx cerebri; lateral lacunae receive grossly visible arachnoid granulations
thyroid, inferior numerous tributaries from the thyroid gland, esophageal v, tracheal v., inferior laryngeal v. left and right brachiocephalic vv. inferior part of the thyroid gland inferior thyroid vv. descend on the anterior surface of the trachea
thyroid, middle numerous tributaries from the thyroid gland internal jugular v. lateral aspect of the thyroid gland middle thyroid v. crosses superficial to the common carotid a.
thyroid, superior sternocleidomastoid v., superior laryngeal v., infrahyoid v., cricothyroid v. internal jugular v. superior portion of the thyroid gland and surrounding structures superior thyroid v. is the only thyroid v. to accompany an artery; it crosses superficial to the common carotid a.
thyroidea ima v. formed by a high union of the right and left inferior thyroid vv. left brachiocephalic vein inferior part of the thyroid gland an occasional branch; a midline structure which is in danger during tracheostomy
transverse sinus confluens of sinuses, inferior cerebral vv. sigmoid sinus brain lies within the line of attachment of the tentorium cerebelli to the inner surface of the calvaria
vena comitans nervi hypoglossi no named tributaries lingual v. tongue vena comitans nervi hypoglossi accompanies CN XII
vertebral venous plexus, external intervertebral vv. adjacent segmental vv.; vertebral v. in the cervical region vertebral column and associated muscles two plexuses are described: anterior and posterior; connects with the internal vertebral venous plexus
vertebral venous plexus, internal anterior and posterior longitudinal vertebral sinuses adjacent segmental vv. spinal cord, meninges, vertebral column connects with the external vertebral venous plexuses; valveless; a route for potential spread of metastases from the pelvis to the brain


Some of the material presented in these tables is contained in the book:
MedCharts Anatomy by Thomas R. Gest and Jaye Schlesinger
Published by ILOC, Inc., New York. Copyright 1995.

The content of these tables has been edited for use in this course by Patrick W. Tank, Ph.D.
Copyright 2009, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Unauthorized use is prohibited.




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