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The inferior epigastric vein or vena epigastrica inferior in Latin is a relatively short blood vessel formed by the joining of the venae comites of the corresponding inferior epigastric artery. It shares the artery’s course and empties into the external iliac vein.
The external iliac vein is the proximal continuation of the femoral vein. It arises posterior to the inguinal ligament, and runs along the pelvic brim. It ends by uniting with the internal iliac vein to form the common iliac vein at the anterior end of the sacroiliac joint. The external iliac vein is usually valveless, but can contain a single valve in some cases. Its tributaries include the pubic veins, deep circumflex iliac, and the inferior epigastric. The inferior epigastric vein joins the external iliac about 1.25 cm above the inguinal ligament, and is responsible for the drainage of the antero-lateral abdominal wall.
Cutaneous veins from the inferior epigastric also arise from the umbilical area and anastomose with the para-umbilical veins, and the small tributaries of the hepatic portal vein. Moreover, a deep medial venous anastomosis may develop between the inferior epigastric vein and the superior epigastric vein (arising from the subclavian vein). This superficial and deep anastomoses may provide a collateral circulation in case of blockage of either vena cava.
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