Brachiocephalic vein

Dr Sheila Oh and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Brachiocephalic veins (BCV), previously the innominate veins are large paired valveless asymmetric veins that drain the head, neck, upper limbs and part of the thorax and mediastinum.

Gross anatomy

Origin

In the root of the neck, the internal jugular and subclavian veins unite to form the brachiocephalic veins posterior to the medial ends of the clavicles.

Course

The left brachiocephalic vein is approximately 6 cm long and runs a long, oblique course to the right through the superior mediastinum anterior to the branches of the aortic arch to unite with the right brachiocephalic vein posterior to the first sternocostal joint to form the superior vena cava.

The right brachiocephalic vein is much shorter, approximately 2.5 cm long and runs a vertical course anterior to the brachiocephalic trunk. It becomes the SVC as it is joined from the left by the left brachiocepahlic vein.

Tributaries
Right brachiocephalic vein
Left brachiocephalic vein
Relations
  • anteriorly: pleura, upper lobes, thymus, manubrium
  • posteriorly: aortic arch (left BCV), great vessels, the dome of the pleura

Variant anatomy

Anatomy: Thoracic
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Article information

rID: 24463
System: Chest, Vascular
Section: Anatomy
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Brachiocephalic veins
  • Brachiocephalic vein (BCV)
  • Innominate vein
  • Innominate veins

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: contrast refluxing into a thymic vein
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  • Figure 1: mediastinum (Gray's illustration)
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