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Vein is a blood vessel that carries blood toward the heart.

Venous system in a nut shell

After blood delivers oxygen to the tissues and picks up carbon dioxide, it returns to the heart through a system of veins. The capillaries, where the gaseous exchange occurs, merge into venules and these converge to form larger and larger veins until the blood reaches either the superior vena cava or inferior vena cava, which drain into the right atrium.

Major veins of the body

  • The pulmonary veins
  • The systemic veins
    • The veins of the heart
    • The veins of the head and neck
      • The veins of the exterior of the head and face
      • The veins of the neck
      • The diploic veins
      • The veins of the brain
      • The sinuses of the dura mater. ophthalmic veins and emissary veins
    • The veins of the upper extremity and thorax
    • The veins of the lower extremity, abdomen, and pelvis
  • The portal system of veins

Varicose veins

Varicose veins and spider veins are swollen, twisted veins that usually appear on the legs.

external veins as well as some of the musculature of the head
external veins as well as some of the musculature of the head

Glossary of veins

  • Accessory cephalic vein -  a vein that passes along the radial edge of the forearm and joins the cephalic vein near the elbow
  • Accessory hemiazygos vein -  a vein formed by the union of the 4th to 7th posterior intercostal veins; empties into the azygos vein
  • Angular vein -  a short vein formed by the supraorbital vein and the supratrochlear vein and continuing as the facial vein
  • Anterior jugular vein -  arises below the chin from veins draining the lower face; joins the external jugular vein
  • Appendicular vein -  a vein that accompanies the appendicular artery and empties into the ileocolic vein
  • Axillary vein -  a continuation of the basilic vein and brachial vein that becomes the subclavian vein
Venous system
Venous system
  • Azygos vein -  one of a system of veins that drain the thoracic and abdominal walls; arises as a continuation of the right ascending lumbar vein and terminates in the superior vena cava
  • Basal vein -  a large vein passing along the medial surface of the temporal lobe and emptying into the great cerebral vein
  • Basilic vein -  a vein that drains the back of the hand and forearm and empties into the axillary vein
  • Cavernous sinus -  either of a pair of large venous sinuses in the cranial cavity
  • Central veins of liver -  terminal branches of the hepatic veins that lie in the hepatic lobules and receive blood from the liver sinusoids
  • Cephalic vein -  a large vein of the arm that empties into the axillary vein
  • Common facial vein -  vein formed by union of facial vein and the retromandibular vein and emptying into the jugular vein
  • Common iliac vein -  formed by the internal and external iliac veins; unites with its fellow from the opposite side of the body to form the inferior vena cava
  • Coronary sinus -  a short sinus receiving most of the veins of the heart; empties into the right atrium
  • Deep middle cerebral vein -  accompanies the middle cerebral artery deep in the Sylvian fissure; empties into the basal vein
  • Dorsal scapular vein -  vein that is a tributary of the subclavian vein or external jugular vein and accompanies the descending scapular artery
  • Esophageal veins -  small veins from the esophagus emptying into the brachiocephalic vein or the azygos veins
  • External iliac vein -  a continuation of the femoral vein; unites with the internal iliac vein to form the common iliac vein
  • External jugular vein -  formed by the junction of the posterior auricular and the retromandibular veins; empties into the subclavian vein
  • Femoral vein -  a vein that accompanies the femoral artery in the same sheath; a continuation of the popliteal vein; becomes the external iliac vein
  • Great cerebral vein -  a cerebral vein formed by the two internal cerebral veins and continuing into the sinus rectus
  • Great saphenous vein -  the longest vein in the body; runs from foot to the groin where it joins the femoral vein
  • Hepatic vein -  a vein that drains the liver; empties into the vena cava
  • Ileocolic vein -  a vein that drains the end of the ileum and the appendix and the cecum and the lower part of the ascending colon
  • Iliac vein -  one of three veins draining the pelvic area
  • Inferior vena cava -  receives blood from lower limbs and abdominal organs and empties into the posterior part of the right atrium of the heart; formed from the union of the two iliac veins
  • Internal iliac vein -  a vein that unites with the external iliac vein to form the common iliac vein
  • Internal jugular vein -  a continuation of the sigmoid sinus of the dura mater; joins the subclavian vein to form the brachiocephalic vein
  • Jugular vein -  veins in the neck that return blood from the head
  • Left gastric vein -  arises from a union of veins from the gastric cardia; runs in the lesser omentum; empties into the portal vein
  • Middle thyroid vein -  a vein on each side that drains the lateral part of the thyroid and empties into the internal jugular vein
  • Nasofrontal vein -  a vein located in the anterior medial part of the orbit; connects the superior ophthalmic with the angular vein
  • Ophthalmic vein -  either of two veins that serve the eye; empties into the cavernous sinus
  • Ovarian vein -  one of the veins that drain the ovaries; the right opens into the inferior vena cava; the left opens into the left renal vein
  • Paraumbilical vein -  small veins arising in skin around the navel; terminate as accessory portal veins
  • Popliteal vein -  a vein arising in the knee and ascending to become the femoral vein
  • Portal vein -  a short vein that carries blood into the liver
  • Pterygoid plexus -  a plexus of veins draining the region of the pterygoid muscles and draining into the internal maxillary and anterior facial veins
  • Pulmonary vein -  any of four veins that carry arterial blood from the lungs to the left atrium of the heart
  • Radial vein -  superficial veins ascending the radial side of the forearm; combines with the ulnar veins to form the brachial vein
  • Renal vein -  veins that accompany renal arteries; open into the vena cava at the level of the 2nd lumbar vertebra
  • Retromandibular vein -  posterior branch of the facial vein; formed by temporal veins in front of the ear
  • Right gastric vein -  receives veins from the upper surfaces of the stomach and empties into the portal vein
  • Sigmoid sinus -  an S-shaped dural sinus on the temporal and occipital bones
  • Splenic vein -  a vein formed by several small veins on the surface of the spleen; joins the superior mesenteric to form the portal vein
  • Subclavian vein -  a continuation of the axillary vein; joins the internal jugular to form the brachiocephalic vein
  • Superior ophthalmic vein -  a vein that begins at the inner angle of the eye socket and passes through the superior orbital fissure to empty into the cavernous sinus
  • Superior thyroid vein -  a vein on each side that drains the upper part of the thyroid and empties into the internal jugular vein
  • Superior vena cava -  receives blood from the head and arms and chest and empties into the right atrium of the heart; formed from the azygos and both brachiocephalic veins
  • Supraorbital vein -  drains the front of the scalp; unites with the supratrochlear vein to form the angular vein
  • Thoracoepigastric vein -  a vein arising from the region of the superficial epigastric vein and opening into the axillary vein or thoracic vein
  • Ulnar vein -  any of several veins of the forearm
  • Umbilical vein -  a vein in the umbilical cord; returns nutrient blood from the placenta to the fetus
  • venous - adj. of or contained in or performing the function of the veins
  • Venule -  a minute vein continuous with a capillary
  • Vertebral vein -  a vein that goes through the foramina of the cervical vertebrae and forms a plexus around the vertebral artery; empties into the brachiocephalic vein

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