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
Emissary Veins
Cardiovascular System

Emissary Veins


Read more


The emissary veins are small veins which pass through various foramina inside the skull to connect the intracranial venous sinuses with the extracranial veins. Learning their anatomy has clinical implications as these venous channels could provide a route for the spread of infection from outside the cranium into the venous sinuses intracranially. For instance, the spread of infection from the paranasal sinuses to the cavernous sinus.

Examples of a few important emissary veins have been given below:

- mastoid emissary vein interconnects auricular or occipital veins from suboccipital venous plexus with the sigmoid sinus;

- parietal emissary vein interconnects the veins of the scalp with the superior sagittal sinus;

- condylar emissary vein interconnects the sigmoid sinus with veins in the suboccipital triangle;

- occipital emissary vein interconnects the confluence of sinuses with the occipital vein;

- venous plexus of foramen ovale, a plexus of emissary veins, which passes through the foramen ovale and interconnects the cavernous sinus and the pterygoid plexus of veins;

- internal carotid venous plexus, which passes through the carotid canal, connects the cavernous sinus and the internal jugular vein;

- venous plexus of foramen lacerum contains two or three small veins which traverse the foramen lacerum and interconnect the cavernous sinus and the pharyngeal veins and pterygoid plexus;

- emissary vein through the sphenoidal foramen (of Vesalius) connects the cavernous sinus with the pharyngeal veins and pterygoid plexus.

The ophthalmic veins are potentially emissary veins, as they interconnect intra- and extracranial veins.

It should be noted that emissary veins are valveless channels and, hence, the venous blood can flow in either direction (Tubbs, Shoja and Loukas, 2016; Mortazavi et al., 2012).

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


Mortazavi, M. M., Tubbs, R. S., Riech, S., Verma, K., Shoja, M. M., Zurada, A., Benninger, B., Loukas, M. and Cohen Gadol, A. A. (2012) 'Anatomy and pathology of the cranial emissary veins: a review with surgical implications', Neurosurgery, 70(5), pp. 1312-8; discussion 1318-9.

Tubbs, R. S., Shoja, M. M. and Loukas, M. (2016) Bergman's Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation. Wiley.

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Emissary Veins

ScienceDirect image

In addition, the emissary veins that leave the CC through the tunica albuginea travel obliquely between the two layers of the tunica before entering the deep dorsal vein and other venous drainage.

Explore on ScienceDirect(opens in new tab/window)

Complete Anatomy

The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform

Complete Anatomy