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Axillary vein: want to learn more about it?

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Axillary vein

The axillary vein is a deep vein of the upper limb that is formed by the union of the brachial and basilic veins. It starts at the lower border of the teres major muscle and ascends medially through the axilla towards the 1st rib, where it is continued by the subclavian vein

Along its course, the axillary vein lies anteromedial to the axillary artery, partially overlapping it. The tributaries of the axillary vein are the subscapular, circumflex humeral, lateral thoracic, thoracoacromial, and cephalic veins, most of which correspond to the branches of the axillary artery.

Key facts about the axillary vein
Drains from Confluence of brachial and basilic vein
Tributaries Subscapular, circumflex humeral, lateral thoracic, thoracoacromial, cephalic vein
Drains to Subclavian vein
Drainage area Thorax, axilla, upper limb

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the axillary vein.

Contents
  1. Anatomy and course
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Anatomy and course

The axillary vein originates at the lower border of the teres major tendon, arising from the confluence of the brachial and basilic veins. It courses upwards and medially, traversing the axillary region (armpit). The axillary vein then reaches the lateral border of the 1st rib, where it terminates by becoming the subclavian vein

Along its course through the armpit region, the axillary vein accompanies the axillary artery. It courses on the anteromedial side of the artery, partially overlapping it. The axillary artery and vein travel in a bundle with several neurovascular structures of the axilla; the lateral and medial pectoral nerves, medial cord of the brachial plexus, ulnar nerve and medial cutaneous nerve of the arm. 

The axillary vein receives tributaries that correspond to the branches of the axillary artery. Namely, these veins are the subscapular, circumflex humeral, lateral thoracic and thoracoacromial veins. In addition, the axillary artery also receives the cephalic vein near its termination. 

Axillary vein: want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References

  • Moore, K. L., Dalley, A. F., & Agur, A. M. R. (2014). Clinically Oriented Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Netter, F. (2019). Atlas of Human Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.
  • Standring, S. (2016). Gray's Anatomy (41tst ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
  • Sinnatamby, C. S., & Last, R. J. (2011). Last's anatomy: Regional and applied. (12th edition). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Tubbs, R. S., Shoja, M. M., Loukas, M., & Bergman, R. A. (2016). Bergman's comprehensive encyclopedia of human anatomic variation. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell.

Illustrations:

  • Axillary vein (Vena axillaris) - Begoña Rodriguez
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