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Small saphenous vein

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The small (short or lesser) saphenous vein is a superficial vein of the leg. It drains the lateral surface of the leg, and runs up the posterior surface of the leg to drain into the popliteal vein. In this article we will discuss the anatomy and clinical relevance of the small saphenous vein. 

  1. Anatomy
    1. Drainage
    2. Course
  2. Clinical points
  3. Sources
+ Show all



The dorsal venous arch of the foot connects the great saphenous vein, that drains the medial surface of the leg and thigh into the femoral vein at the saphenofemoral junction, to the small saphenous vein, which is a superficial vein.


The small saphenous vein extends from the lateral marginal of the foot posterior to the lateral malleolus. It then ascends along the posterior surface of the leg and passes between the two heads of gastrocnemius. In many individuals, the small saphenous vein drains into the popliteal vein at the saphenopopliteal junction, whose location is variable but proximal to the tibial plateau in most cases. The small saphenous vein usually gives off a branch, the vein of Giacomini, which extends up the thigh and runs between the biceps femoris and semimembranosus muscles.

The small saphenous vein is accompanied by the sural nerve along its course in the posterior aspect of the leg. The sural nerve is a sensory cutaneous nerve that is formed by branches from the common fibular (anterir rami ofs spinal nerves L4-S2) and tibial (anterior rami of spinal nerves L4-S3) branches of the sciatic nerve (anterior rami of spinal nerves L4-S3).

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