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Small cardiac vein: want to learn more about it?

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Small cardiac vein

Small cardiac vein (Vena cardiaca parva)

The small cardiac vein is a vessel located mainly within the posterior aspect of the right coronary sulcus, also referred to as the right atrioventricular groove. This vein contributes to the formation of  the greater cardiac venous system, along with the coronary sinus and its tributaries, veins draining the right ventricle and veins draining the atria.

The small cardiac vein contributes to the venous drainage of the external layer of the myocardium of the posterior right atrium and right ventricle.

Key facts about the small cardiac vein
Drains from Small venules of the right and inferior borders of the heart
Tributaries Right marginal vein
Drains to Coronary sinus
Drainage area External layer of the myocardium of the posterior right atrium and right ventricle

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the small cardiac vein.

Anatomy and course

The small cardiac vein begins in the distal portion of the anterior aspect of the right coronary sulcus, arising from venules surrounding the junction of the right and inferior borders of the heart. It then courses onto the diaphragmatic surface of the heart within the posterior aspect of the right coronary sulcus, emptying into the arterial end of the coronary sinus. Along its course, the small cardiac vein accompanies the right coronary artery (RCA) within the coronary sulcus as well as the marginal branch of the RCA along the inferior border of the heart. The small cardiac vein sometimes receives the right marginal vein. However, in most individuals, the right marginal vein drains directly into the right atrium.

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

Anatomical variations

Anatomical variations of the small cardiac vein are common. In about 60% of individuals, this vein is either very small or completely absent. Additionally, instead of draining into the coronary sinus, the small cardiac vein drains directly into the right atrium in about 50% of cases.

Small cardiac 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:

  • Drake, R., Vogl, W., Mitchell, A. & Gray, H. (2015). Gray's anatomy for students. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
  • Iaizzo, P. (2009). Handbook of cardiac anatomy, physiology, and devices. New York, NY: Springer
  • 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.
  • Tubbs, R. S., Shoja, M. M., Loukas, M., & Bergman, R. A. (2016). Bergman's comprehensive encyclopedia of human anatomic variation. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell.

Illustrations:

  • Small cardiac vein (Vena cardiaca parva) - Yousun Koh
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