UAMS Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences - Veins of the Thorax

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 Thorax - Listed Alphabetically

Vein Tributaries Drains Into Regions Drained Notes
accessory hemiazygos v. left posterior intercostal vv. 4-7 or 8, left bronchial vv., esophageal vv. azygos v. mid levels of the left posterolateral chest wall the azygos system is variable, and levels drained by the accessory hemiazygos v. may vary
anterior cardiac v. no named veins are tributary to these vessels right atrium anterior surface of the right ventricle anterior cardiac vv. cross the superficial surface of the right coronary a.
ascending lumbar v. lumbar vv. 1-4 right: azygos v.; left: hemiazygos v. posterior abdominal wall ascending lumbar v. connects adjacent lumbar vv.
azygos v. formed by the union of the ascending lumbar v. and the subcostal v.; tributaries: posterior intercostal vv. 11-2 (right superior intercostal), hemiazygos v., accessory hemiazygos v., esophageal v., right bronchial v. posterior surface of the superior vena cava lateral and posterior walls of the abdomen and chest; esophagus; bronchial tree may connect with the inferior vena cava; arch of azygos passes superior to the root of the lung
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
cardiac, anterior no named veins are tributary to these vessels right atrium anterior surface of the right ventricle anterior cardiac vv. cross the superficial surface of the right coronary a.
cardiac, great ventricular vv. unites with the oblique v. of the left atrium to form the coronary sinus region of the heart near the anterior interventricular sulcus great cardiac v. is the longest of the cardiac vv.; it accompanies the anterior interventricular a.
cardiac, middle ventricular vv. coronary sinus region of the heart near the posterior interventricular sulcus middle cardiac v. accompanies the posterior interventricular a.
cardiac, small no named veins are tributary to this vessel coronary sinus region of the heart near the inferior vena cava and right coronary sulcus small cardiac v. courses through the coronary sulcus with the right coronary a.
cardiac, smallest no named veins are tributary to these small vessels drain directly into the heart chambers, particularly the atria myocardium also known as: Thebesian vv.; least cardiac vv.; venae cordis minimae
coronary sinus formed by the union of the great cardiac v. and the oblique v. of the left atrium; tributaries: middle cardiac v., small cardiac v. right atrium heart, except the region drained by the anterior cardiac vv. and the smallest cardiac vv. coronary sinus is located in the coronary (atrioventricular) sulcus; its opening into the right atrium is guarded by an imperfect valve
esophageal v. tributaries are unnamed azygos v.; hemiazygos v. esophagus esophageal vv. connect with the esophageal brs. of the left gastric, forming a potential portal-caval venous anastomosis (esophageal varices when enlarged)
great cardiac v. ventricular vv. unites with the oblique v. of the left atrium to form the coronary sinus region of the heart near the anterior interventricular sulcus great cardiac v. is the longest of the cardiac vv.; it accompanies the anterior interventricular a.
hemiazygos v. formed by the joining of the left ascending lumbar v. and the left subcostal v.; tributaries: left posterior intercostal vv. 8 or 9-11; esophageal vv. azygos v. inferior levels of the left posterolateral chest wall the azygos system is variable, and levels drained by the hemiazygos v. may vary
hemiazygos, accessory left posterior intercostal vv. 4-7 or 8, left bronchial vv., esophageal vv. azygos v. mid levels of the left posterolateral chest wall the azygos system is variable, and levels drained by the accessory hemiazygos v. may vary
intercostal, posterior lateral cutaneous br. 1st: brachiocephalic v.; 2nd-4th: superior intercostal v.; right 5th-11th: azygos v.; left 5th-7th or 8th: accessory hemiazygos v.; left 9th-11th: hemiazygos v. intercostal space including skin, muscles and adjacent ribs; the spinal cord at that segmental level and the corresponding vertebra the difference in termination of the intercostal vv. of the left and right sides is explained by the embryonic origin of the azygos system from the (originally symmetrical) supracardinal vv.
intercostal, superior 2nd-4th posterior intercostal vv. right: arch of the azygos v.; left: left brachiocephalic v, intercostal spaces 2-4 superior intercostal v. develops from the cephalic end of the supracardinal v. in the embryo
lumbar, ascending lumbar vv. 1-4 right: azygos v.; left: hemiazygos v. posterior abdominal wall ascending lumbar v. connects adjacent lumbar vv.
middle cardiac v. ventricular vv. coronary sinus region of the heart near the posterior interventricular sulcus middle cardiac v. accompanies the posterior interventricular a.
oblique v. of the left atrium no named tributaries coronary sinus left auricle and a small portion of the left atrium oblique v. of the left atrium is the remnant of the embryonic left superior vena cava, the proximal portion of which forms the coronary sinus
posterior intercostal v. lateral cutaneous br. 1st: brachiocephalic v.; 2nd-4th: superior intercostal v.; right 5th-11th: azygos v.; left 5th-7th or 8th: accessory hemiazygos v.; left 9th-11th: hemiazygos v. intercostal space including skin, muscles and adjacent ribs; the spinal cord at that segmental level and the corresponding vertebra the difference in termination of the intercostal vv. of the left and right sides is explained by the embryonic origin of the azygos system from the (originally symmetrical) supracardinal vv.
pulmonary v. lobar vv. left atrium lungs there are usually two pulmonary vv. per side, (superior and inferior)
superior intercostal v. 2nd-4th posterior intercostal vv. right: arch of the azygos v.; left: left brachiocephalic v, intercostal spaces 2-4 superior intercostal v. develops from the cephalic end of the supracardinal v. in the embryo
superior vena cava formed by the union of the paired brachiocephalic vv.; tributary: azygos arch right atrium all of the body above the level of the diaphragm except for those regions drained by the pulmonary vv. and coronary vv. superior vena cava is formed posterior to the first costal cartilage on the right side
thoracoepigastric v. numerous vv. of the superficial fascia lateral thoracic v. skin and superficial fascia of the anterolateral body wall thoracoepigastric v. connects the superficial circumflex iliac v. and the superficial epigastric v. - it can serve as collateral drainage when the inferior vena cava is blocked
vena cava, inferior formed by the union of the paired common iliac vv; tributaries: lumbar vv. 1-4, right ovarian/testicular v., renal vv., right suprarenal v., right inferior phrenic v., hepatic vv. right atrium all of the body below the level of the respiratory diaphragm the inferior vena cava is longer than the abdominal aorta
vena cava, superior formed by the union of the paired brachiocephalic vv.; tributary: azygos arch right atrium all of the body above the level of the diaphragm except for those regions drained by the pulmonary vv. and coronary vv. superior vena cava is formed posterior to the first costal cartilage on the right side


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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