Lower Limb Veins Overview – 3D Anatomy Tutorial

Lower Limb Veins Overview – 3D Anatomy Tutorial


Hi this is Peter from AnatomyZone and in this
tutorial I’ll be providing you with an overview of the venous drainage of the lower limb.
The venous drainage of the lower limb consists of a superficial and a deep system. The superficial
system is located in the subcutaneous tissue, whereas the deep system is located in the
deep fascia of the lower limb. The veins of the deep system accompany the vessels of the
arterial system, and they follow a similar naming structure. So if you have a good grasp
of the arterial system you’ll be familiar with the names of the deep system of the lower
limb. Ultimately, the veins of the superficial system drain to the veins of the deep venous
system. We’ll begin this tutorial by looking at the
deep system of veins, and we’ll start distally. Beginning in the foot what we’re looking at
here is an anterior view of the foot, and we can see both the venous system and arterial
system included on this model. In light blue you can see the vein which accompanies the
arcuate artery, and this drains into the vein which accompanies the dorsalis pedis artery,
which you can see in green. These deep veins of the foot then drain into the anterior tibial
veins, which you can see in the purple colour. If I rotate the model so we can look at the
plantar surface of the foot, you can see that there’s these veins accompanying the deep
plantar arterial arch, so this is the deep plantar venous arch, and just like the arterial
system, with the medial and lateral plantar arteries, we’ve also got medial and lateral
plantar veins. In green we’ve got the lateral plantar vein, and in the light blue colour
we’ve got the plantar plantar veins, accompanying the medial plantar artery. These plantar veins
then drain into the posterior tibial vein, which you can see runs just behind the medial
malleolus and it accompanies the posterior tibial artery. I’ve just brought the model up, so we’re now
looking at a posterior view of the leg, just inferior to the knee joint, and you can see
the posterior tibial vein in light blue colour draining into the popliteal vein. And if I
rotate the model anteriorly, you can see the anterior tibial veins, which I highlighted
in purple colour, draining into the popliteal vein. So it passes from this anterior compartment,
to the posterior compartment, and drains into the popliteal vein. Also on this model, you can see this model
highlighted in the green colour. This vein accompanies the fibular artery and is known
as the fibular vein, and this vein drains the lateral compartment of the leg. Now if we follow the course of the popliteal
vein, you can see that it follows the course of the popliteal artery, and it passes through
the adductor hiatus of the adductor magnus muscle. And it passes from the posterior compartment
into the anterior compartment of the thigh. After passing through the hiatus into the
anterior compartment, it is then known as the femoral vein. If we follow the femoral
vein up proximally, we can see that it receives this tributary, which is the deep vein of
the thigh, or the profunda femoris vein. And this vein accompanies the profunda femoris
artery. You can also see some other branches which drain into the profunda femoris, and
these veins accompany the lateral and medial femoral circumflex arteries. Just like the perforating arteries of the
profunda femoris artery, there are also perforating veins which drain into the deep vein of the
thigh. If we follow the femoral vein up even further proximally, we can see that it passes
underneath the inguinal ligament. After it passes underneath this ligament, it becomes
known as the external iliac vein. The external iliac vein then joins the internal iliac vein
to become the common iliac vein. The left and right common iliac veins then unite to
form the inferior vena cava. So you may have heard of a DVT, which stands
for deep vein thrombosis. So this is the formation of a clot which forms in the deep system of
veins which I’ve just described. And if this clot is dislodged, it can pass into the right
side of the heart, through the pathways that I’ve just shown you. So from the deep veins
of the leg, into the deep veins of the thigh, and then through the iliac system, into the
inferior vena cava and then into the right side of the heart. From the right side of
the heart, it can then pass into the pulmonary circulation resulting in a pulmonary infarct.
This is known as a pulmonary embolus. Now moving onto the superficial venous system,
this essentially consist of two veins: you’ve got the small saphenous vein and the great
saphenous vein. The great saphenous vein you can see here highlighted in light blue, and
it runs along the entire length of the leg and the thigh. The small saphenous vein on
the other hand, runs posteriorly up the leg and its highlighted here in the green colour.
I’ve just moved the model distally and we’re taking a look at the dorsal aspect of the
foot. Here we have the dorsal venous arch, which drains the dorsal aspect of the foot
and on the plantar aspect of the foot is a venous network, which drains the plantar structures.
Coming back to the dorsal view, if we just rotate around to a lateral view, we can see
the small saphenous vein arising from the lateral aspect of the dorsal venous arch and
passing behind the lateral malleolus to ascend the leg. The small saphenous vein then ascends
posteriorly up the leg to the level of the knee and it then drains into the popliteal
vein behind the knee joint. I’ve just removed the structures so you can see the small saphenous
vein draining into the popliteal vein, and this is a point where the superficial system
meets the deep venous system. Coming back distally to the foot and taking
a look at the medial aspect of the dorsal venous arch, we can see the great saphenous
vein given off. We can see that the great saphenous vein passes in front of the medial
malleolus and then it runs along the medial aspect of the leg, along the entire length
of the lower limb. It then drains into the deep venous system by draining into the femoral
vein, which we took a look at before. In addition to these two major veins, the
small and great saphenous vein, you also have perforating veins. These are small little
veins which pass directly from the superficial venous system to the deep venous system. So
the deep venous system is actually at a higher pressure to the superficial venous system.
In order to prevent the backflow of blood from the deep to the superficial system, there
are valves at these junctions between the saphenous vein and the deep system. So where
the great saphenous vein drains into the femoral vein, you have a valve which prevents that
higher pressure blood flowing back into the superficial, and likewise, at the popliteal
vein where the small saphenous vein drains into the popliteal, you have a valve to prevent
the backflow of blood into the superficial small saphenous vein. So if these valves become incompetent, the
superficial veins dilate up and take on this tortuous appearance, because of the back flow
of blood, this appearance is what is referred to as a varicose vein. So that’s an overview of the venous system
of the lower limb.

96 Replies to “Lower Limb Veins Overview – 3D Anatomy Tutorial”

  1. extreme knitpicking… but pulmonary infarction and embolus are no the same. Infarction only occurs in 10-15% of pulmonary emboli. Thanks as always for your incredible videos – you are fantastic and I absolutely love your videos

  2. please a video on lower limb and pelvic lymphatic drainage..the nodes that drain into…etc..etc

  3. What a great explanation.Thank you, peter.

    From Bangladesh( FMC) / বাংলাদেশ (ফমেক) ♥♥

  4. You are exceptionally at teaching anatomy. Thank you, you don’t know how much I learned and retained!!!!!!!!!! 👍🏽😊😌

  5. Greetings from India… Great job… Love your work…. 3D anatomy is the best.. Thanks for making med school easy…

  6. I have several questions : did the varicose vein only happens in the superficial vein and not the deep vein? And the valves , is it sup vein has it or both sup & deep vein have it?

  7. If a part of the great saphenous vein is cut for use in coronary bypass, will the lower limb venous system must now use other venous path to drain properly?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *