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Main veins of the upper limb

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Name the major veins of the upper limb.
  2. Identify which veins belong to the superficial venous system and which form the deep venous system.
  3. Describe the drainage area and course of each vein.

Watch video

The veins of the upper limb drain deoxygenated blood from the upper extremity and return it to the heart via the superior vena cava. They do this by forming two venous networks within the limb, one superficial and the other deep. Watch the following video to find out more about these venous networks and learn the areas drained by each vein as they travel from the fingers back towards the heart.

Take a quiz

Do you know the names of the upper limb veins? How about which veins belong to the superficial venous system and which to the deep? Test yourself now with our tailored quizzes.

Browse atlas


Key points about the main veins of the upper limb
Major veins of the upper limb Subclavian vein, axillary vein, brachial veins, median cubital vein, basilic vein, cephalic vein, ulnar veins, radial veins, palmar arches and dorsal venous network
Superficial and deep venous systems Superficial: median cubital vein, basilic vein, cephalic vein and dorsal venous network 
: subclavian vein, axillary vein, brachial vein, ulnar vein, radial vein and palmar arches
Region drained by each vein Hand: dorsal venous network, superficial and deep palmar arches, metacarpal veins and digital veins 
: basilic vein, cephalic vein, radial veins and ulnar veins
: brachial vein, basilic vein and cephalic vein
: subclavian vein and axillary vein

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