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Left gastric vein

Recommended video: Hepatic portal vein [12:35]
Structure and function of the hepatic portal vein.
Left gastric vein (Vena gastrica sinistra)

The left gastric vein (coronary vein) is a short vein that courses along the upper half of the lesser curvature of the stomach. It arises at the midpoint of the lesser curvature of stomach, courses posterior to the lesser sac, and finally terminates by draining into the hepatic portal vein.

The main function of the left gastric vein is to drain deoxygenated blood from the fundus and upper body of the stomach. Additionally, it anastomoses with the lower esophageal veins and drains the abdominal part of the esophagus. Since the lower esophageal veins belong to the system of superior vena cava, this particular anastomosis is important as it is one of the portocaval anastomoses.

Key facts about the left gastric vein
Drains from Small unnamed veins that drain the upper portion of the stomach
Tributaries Lower esophageal veins 
Drains to Hepatic portal vein
Drainage area Upper body of stomach, fundus of the stomach, abdominal portion of esophagus

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the left gastric vein. 

  1. Origin and course
  2. Tributaries and drainage area
  3. Sources
+ Show all

Origin and course

The left gastric vein is formed by the small veins that drain the upper portion of the stomach. It emerges at the midpoint of the lesser curvature of the stomach, after which it ascends along the curvature towards the fundus of stomach.

At the level of the lower esophagus, the left gastric vein turns posteriorly and medially, and passes behind the lesser sac. It crosses the common hepatic artery and finally empties into the hepatic portal vein at the level of the proximal duodenum. Occasionally, the left gastric vein can also drain into the splenic vein.

Tributaries and drainage area

Along its course, the left gastric vein receives several tributaries that drain both sides of the upper half of the body of stomach, fundus of stomach and the abdominal portion of esophagus. These tributaries include the small gastric and lower esophageal veins.

The portocaval anastomosis between the left gastric and lower esophageal veins is important as it provides alternative routes of circulation when there is a blockage in the liver or the portal vein. Put simply, it enables the venous blood from the gastrointestinal tract to still reach the heart through the superior vena cava without going through the liver.

Explore our articles, quizzes, video tutorials and labeled diagrams to learn everything about the hepatic portal vein and the arteries and veins of the small intestine.

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