Table 19.9
The Venae Cavae and the Major Veins of the Systemic Circulation
R. external
– superficial
head and neck
R. vertebral
– cervical spinal
cord and
R. brachiocephalic
– R. side of head and R. upper limb
Superior vena cava
– runs from union of brachiocephalic
veins behind manubrium to R. atrium
Inferior vena cava
– runs from junction of common iliac
veins at L
to R. atrium of heart
R. atrium of heart
L. brachiocephalic
– L. side of head and L. upper limb
dural venous sinuses
R. internal jugular
– dural
sinuses of the brain
R. subclavian
– R. head, neck,
and upper
Same as R. brachiocephalic
R. axillary
Azygos system
– drains much of
L., R., and middle
hepatic veins
– liver
Veins of
L. lower limb
(a) Schematic flowchart
L. and R. renal veins
– kidneys
Lumbar veins
(several pairs)
– posterior abdominal
R. suprarenal
(L. suprarenal drains
into L. renal vein)
– adrenal glands
R. gonadal
(L. gonadal drains
into L. renal vein)
– testis or ovary
Veins of
R. lower limb
Veins of
R. upper
R. common iliac
– pelvis and R. lower
L. common iliac
– pelvis and L. lower
In our survey of the systemic veins, the major tributaries (branches)
of the venae cavae are noted first in
Figure 19.26
, followed by a
description in Tables 19.10 through 19.13 of the venous pattern of
the various body regions. Because veins run toward the heart, the
most distal veins are named first and those closest to the heart last.
Deep veins generally drain the same areas served by their com-
panion arteries, so they are not described in detail.
Description and Areas Drained
Superior vena cava.
This great vein receives systemic blood
draining from all areas superior to the diaphragm, except the heart
wall. It is formed by the union of the
lef brachiocephalic
and empties into the right atrium (Figure 19.26b). Notice
that there are two brachiocephalic veins, but only one brachio-
cephalic artery (trunk). Each brachiocephalic vein is formed by
the joining of the
internal jugular
subclavian veins
on its
side. In most of the flowcharts that follow, only the vessels drain-
ing blood from the right side of the body are shown (except for the
azygos circulation of the thorax).
Inferior vena cava.
±e widest blood vessel in the body, this
vein returns blood to the heart from all body regions below
the diaphragm. ±e abdominal aorta lies directly to its le². ±e
common iliac veins
join at L
to form the distal end of
the inferior vena cava. From this point, it courses superiorly
along the anterior aspect of the spine, receiving venous
blood from the abdominal walls, gonads, and kidneys.
Immediately above the diaphragm, the inferior vena cava
ends as it enters the inferior aspect of the right atrium.
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