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Median cubital vein

Recommended video: Main veins of the upper and lower limbs [17:10]
Major veins and their tributaries that drain the upper and lower limbs.
Median cubital vein (Vena mediana cubiti)

The median cubital vein (antecubital vein) is a prominent superficial upper limb vessel. Its location is in the cubital fossa, on the anterior/flexor aspect of the elbow joint. This region of the upper limb is sometimes referred to as the antecubital area.

The median cubital vein connects the cephalic and basilic veins, which are the two major superficial veins of the upper limb. These superficial veins lie within the subcutaneous tissue. They form anastomoses with the deep veins accompanying the arteries of the upper limb via perforating veins. Together these veins drain into the axillary vein.

Key facts about the median cubital vein
Drains from Cephalic vein
Tributaries Median antebrachial vein
Drains to Basilic vein, brachial veins
Drainage area Hand, wrist, forearm

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the median cubital vein.

  1. Anatomy and course
  2. Sources
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Anatomy and course

The median cubital vein typically arises as a collateral branch from the cephalic vein which runs on the anterolateral aspect of the upper limb. It courses superomedially across the roof of the cubital fossa, within the subcutaneous tissue and empties into the basilic vein on the anteromedial side of the upper limb. The median cubital vein passes anterior to the bicipital aponeurosis, below which lie the brachial artery and median nerve. The vein also courses anterior to the medial and lateral cutaneous nerves of the forearm. Although there is a considerable amount of variation, the median cubital vein often receives the median antebrachial vein as its major tributary.

Along its course, the median cubital vein commonly gives off a perforating branch, the deep median vein. This vein penetrates the fascial roof of the cubital fossa to anastomose with a brachial vein, forming a connection between the superficial and deep venous systems of the upper limb. Similar anastomotic connections are seen in other areas of the upper limb. The median cubital vein is a common site for venipuncture due to its prominence and relative ease of accessibility.

Test your knowledge on the main veins of the upper limb in this quiz.

To learn more about the veins of the upper limb, explore our articles, quizzes, video tutorials and labelled diagrams.

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