Author: Gordana Sendic•Reviewer: Jana VaskovićLast reviewed: August 30, 2021Reading time: 3 minutes

Brachiocephalic vein (vena brachiocephalica)

The brachiocephalic vein, also well-known as the innominate vein, is a paired vein of the exceptional mediastinum that drains the venous blood from the head and also neck, top limbs and the upper component of the thorax. It is formed by the confluence of the interior jugular and also subclavian veins on each side, simply posterior to the sternoclavicular joint.

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The left and also right brachiocephalic vein course in the direction of the midline and also unite at the level of the inferior border of the first right costal cartilage to form the superior vena cava.

Key facts about the brachiocephalic vein
Drains fromConfluence of subclavian and inner jugular veins
TributariesInferior thyroid veins, posterior intercostal veins of the 1st intercostal room, thymic veins, Internal thoracic veins
Drains toSuperior vena cava
Drainage areaHead, neck, upper limb, top thorax

This write-up will discuss the anatomy and also attribute of the brachiocephalic vein.


The left and ideal brachiocephalic veins begin posteriorly to the respective left and also best sternoclavicular joints, occurring from the union of the internal jugular and subclavian veins. This union is generally described as the venous angle, in which the thoracic duct on the left, and also appropriate lymphatic trunk on the appropriate side drain the lymph into the venous circulation. Hence, the brachiocephalic vein is considered as the site of convergence of the venous and lymphatic units.

The left brachiocephalic vein courses obliquely downwards and also medially, measuring around 6 to 8 centimeters in length. On its course, the left brachiocephalic vein is associated posteriorly to the trachea, left phrenic and left vagus nerves, left interior thoracic artery and the three major branches of the arch of the aorta; the brachiocephalic trunk, widespread carotid and also the left subclavian artery. Anteriorly, the left brachiocephalic vein is in contact, and also partly embedded in the thymus gland also, and separated from the sternoclavicular joint by the sternohyoid and sternothyroid muscles. The left brachiocephalic vein initially courses adjacent to the medial surconfront of the apex of the left lung and is overlapped by the best pleura near its termicountry.

The best brachiocephalic vein has actually a much shorter and an extra vertical course, being approximately 2 centimeters lengthy. It runs anterolateral to the brachiocephalic trunk and also best vagus nerve. In its initial course, the best brachiocephalic vein is found anterior to the appropriate pleura, phrenic nerve and also internal thoracic artery, while later in its course it turns to their medial side.

At the level of the inferior border of the 1st right costal cartilage, the left and also best brachiocephalic veins converge to develop the superior vena cava, which goes on to drain right into the appropriate atrium of the heart.

Tributaries and drainage area

The left and also ideal brachiocephalic veins get various tributaries. Via these tributaries, the brachiocephalic veins receive venous blood from the head, neck, upper limb, and also the upper component of the thorax.

Left brachiocephalic vein


The tributaries of the left brachiocephalic vein are the left vertebral, interior thoracic, inferior thyroid and premium intercostal veins. In addition, it frequently receives the thymic, supreme intercostal, pericardiacophrenic and the left posterior intercostal vein of the first intercostal room.

Right brachiocephalic vein

The tributaries of the right brachiocephalic vein are the best vertebral, internal thoracic and also inferior thyroid veins, and also sometimes the right posterior intercostal vein of the 1st intercostal space.

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