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.
|Confluence of brachial and basilic vein
|Subscapular, circumflex humeral, lateral thoracic, thoracoacromial, cephalic vein
|Thorax, axilla, upper limb
This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the axillary vein.
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.
Test your knowledge about the main veins of the upper limb with the following quiz.
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