Anterior jugular vein
The anterior jugular vein is a paired blood vessel that drains the anterior aspect of the neck. It emerges from the confluence of the superficial submandibular veins beneath the chin and drains into the external jugular vein. Less frequently, it may drain directly into the subclavian vein.
On its way down the neck, the anterior jugular vein receives three sets of tributaries; laryngeal, small thyroid and inferior thyroid veins.
This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the anterior jugular vein.
|Drains from||Confluence of superficial submandibular veins|
|Tributaries||Laryngeal, small thyroid, inferior thyroid veins|
|Drains to||External jugular vein (occasionally subclavian vein)|
|Drainage area||Anterior compartment of neck|
Anatomy and course
The anterior jugular vein arises from the confluence of the superficial submandibular veins. Its origin is located near the hyoid bone, approximately 1 centimeter lateral to the midline of the neck. The vein takes an inferior course down the neck, passing between the midline of the neck and the anterior margin of the sternocleidomastoid muscle. In the upper half of the neck, the anterior jugular vein receives a small portion of blood from the larynx and thyroid gland via the laryngeal and small thyroid veins.
In the lower half of the neck, the anterior jugular vein turns laterally, reaching the space between the deep surface of the sternocleidomastoid and superficial surfaces of the infrahyoid muscles. Here, each anterior jugular vein gives off a branch towards its contralateral counterpart, comprising the jugular (transverse) venous arch just above the jugular notch of sternum. The inferior thyroid veins empty into the jugular venous arch. The main trunk of the vein remains beneath the sternocleidomastoid where it drains into the external jugular vein. Occasionally, the vein can drain directly into the subclavian vein.
Explore our articles, quizzes, video tutorials and labelled diagrams to learn everything about the blood vessels of the neck.