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Inferior vena cava

Anatomy and function of the inferior vena cava.

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Hello again everyone! It’s Matt from Kenhub, and the focus of this video is the inferior vena cava or IVC, which you can now see a part of it highlighted in green from the anterior view of the thorax and abdomen. Also known as the posterior vena cava, it is a large diameter vein that is located posterior to the abdominal cavity and runs alongside of the right side of the vertebral column thus making it a retroperitoneal structure.

The aorta lies laterally on the left of the IVC. That is a lot to take in, so, let’s review it. The IVC is posterior to the abdominal cavity. It is on the right side of the aorta laterally. It is posterior to the abdominal cavity. It is a retroperitoneal structure. Embryologically, the IVC is formed by the confluence of the left and right common iliac veins at the L5 vertebral level. It connects with the azygos vein system running along the right side of the vertebral column and the venous plexuses next to the spinal cord.

There are other veins that drain into the IVC along its course before it passes through the diaphragm at the caval hiatus at the T8 level. The IVC has a short intra-thoracic course before draining into the right atrium from the lower, backside of the heart.

Let’s now review the specific anatomical levels of the branches connected to the IVC. They are the: Hepatic veins that is seen now highlighted in green on this image and the inferior phrenic vein. The right suprarenal vein seen here highlighted, the renal veins and the right gonadal vein. The lumbar veins which we can now see highlighted in green from a posterior view and the common iliac veins.

The IVC is one of the two large veins by which blood is returned from the body to the right side of the heart. After circulating through the body systematically, deoxygenated blood returns to the right atrium of the heart either through the superior vena cava, which drains the upper body, or the IVC that drains everything below the diaphragm including the lower trunk, abdomen, pelvic and lower limbs.

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