EN | DE | PT Get help How to study Login Register

Internal jugular 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

Internal jugular vein

Internal jugular vein (Vena jugularis interna)

The internal jugular vein (IJV) is a paired vessel found within the carotid sheath on either side of the neck. It extends from the base of the skull to the sternal end of the clavicle.

The internal jugular vein receives eight tributaries along its course. Its function is to drain the venous blood from the majority of the skull, brain, and superficial structures of the head and neck.

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the internal jugular vein.

Key facts about the internal jugular vein
Drains from Sigmoid sinus
Tributaries Inferior petrosal sinus, vein of cochlear duct, meningeal veins, pharyngeal venous plexus, lingual vein, common facial vein, sternocleidomastoid vein, superior and middle thyroid vein
Drains to Brachiocephalic vein
Drainage area Brain, skull, oral cavity, superficial structures of face and neck

Origin and course

The internal jugular vein originates within the posterior part of the jugular foramen, under the posterior part of the floor of the tympanic cavity. The IJV is continuous with the sigmoid sinus; however, its origin is demarcated by a dilation called the superior bulb of internal jugular vein.

The internal jugular vein passes through the jugular foramen together with the internal carotid artery. It lies posterior to the artery, with the glossopharyngeal (CN IX), vagus (CN X), accessory (CN XI) and hypoglossal (CN XII) nerves  passing between their adjoining surfaces. The internal jugular vein then traverses the carotid sheath, descending in a nearly vertical fashion down the neck. Within the sheath, the IJV lies lateral to the common carotid artery and the vagus nerve.

The IJV ends posteriorly to the sternal end of the clavicle by merging with the ipsilateral subclavian vein and forming the brachiocephalic (innominate) vein. Prior to its termination, the IJV usually features a terminal dilation called the inferior bulb of internal jugular vein.

Tributaries

The tributaries of the internal jugular vein are the inferior petrosal sinus, vein of cochlear duct, meningeal veins, pharyngeal venous plexus, lingual vein, common facial vein, sternocleidomastoid vein, superior and middle thyroid vein.

Thus, the internal jugular vein drains the venous blood from the brain, skull, oral cavity, and the superficial structures of the face and neck.

Relations

Along its course, the internal jugular vein is related to several structures of the neck. Going from the skull to the clavicle, the relations of the IJV are as follows;

Jugular venous pressure (JVP)

The jugular venous pressure and jugular venous pulse are used as indirect measures of cardiac function. More specifically, since the jugular veins are the most accessible connection to the right side of the heart, the JVP is used to examine the function of the right atrium.

The JVP is usually assessed on the right side of the patient’s neck. The examiner palpates the internal jugular vein in order to determine the location and quality of the jugular venous pulse. The mean jugular venous pressure is defined as a distance between the midpoint of the right atrium and the palpable jugular venous pulsation. The normal mean jugular venous pressure is 6-8 cm H2O (4.4-5.8 mmHg). A value below the normal range usually indicates hypovolemia, while a value higher than normal is a classic sign of venous hypertension due to impaired cardiac filling.

Internal jugular 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

Register now and grab your free ultimate anatomy study guide!