Skip to main content

Unfortunately we don't fully support your browser. If you have the option to, please upgrade to a newer version or use Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Safari 14 or newer. If you are unable to, and need support, please send us your feedback.

Publish with us
Axillary Vein
Cardiovascular System

Axillary Vein

Vena axillaris

Read more

Quick Facts

Origin: Brachial veins.

Course: Superiorly, from inferior border of teres major to external border of the first rib.

Tributaries: Brachial, anterior and posterior circumflex humeral, long thoracic, subscapular, thoracodorsal, thoracoepigastric, lateral thoracic, superior thoracic, basilic, and cephalic veins, branches of the thoracoacromial vein.

Drainage: Upper limb, scapular, and pectoral regions.

Complete Anatomy
The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform
Try it for Free


The axillary vein originates from the unification of the brachial veins with the basilic vein. This occurs at the inferior border of the teres major muscle.


As the axillary vein course superiorly, it sits medial to the axillary artery. The axillary vein is divided into three parts in the same manner as the axillary artery (Moore et al., 2013). The first part sits proximal to the pectoralis minor muscle, the second part sits posterior to the pectoralis minor muscle, and the third part lies distal to the pectoralis minor muscle. The axillary vein continues superiorly to the external border of the first rib, where it is renamed the subclavian vein (Standring, 2016).


The axillary vein receives the brachial veins and basilic vein at its origin. It is then joined by the cephalic vein just inferior to the clavicle. The remaining tributaries roughly parallel the branches of the axillary artery, including the anterior and posterior circumflex humeral, subscapular, branches of the thoracoacromial, lateral thoracic, and superior thoracic veins. The axillary vein also receives the thoracoepigastric veins, which are formed from the vessels originating from the inguinal region uniting with the axillary region (Moore et al., 2013).

Structures Drained

The axillary vein contributes to the venous drainage of the scapular, axillary, pectoral, and brachial regions.


Moore, K. L., Dalley, A. F. and Agur, A. M. R. (2013) Clinically Oriented Anatomy. Clinically Oriented Anatomy 7th edn.: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Standring, S. (2016) Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice. Gray's Anatomy Series 41 edn.: Elsevier Limited.

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Axillary Vein

ScienceDirect image

Level I nodes are the axillary vein lymph nodes that lie along the axillary vein from the lateral extent of the pectoralis minor muscle to the latissimus dorsi muscle.

Explore on ScienceDirect(opens in new tab/window)

Complete Anatomy

The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform

Complete Anatomy