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Internal Thoracic Veins
Cardiovascular System

Internal Thoracic Veins

Venae thoracicae internae

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Quick Facts

Origin: Continuation of musculophrenic and superior epigastric veins.

Course: Superiorly to the corresponding brachiocephalic vein.

Tributaries: Anterior intercostal and perforating cutaneous veins.

Drainage: Intercostal space, sternum, and skin.

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The internal thoracic veins are vena commitantes of the inferior half of the internal thoracic artery and are the continuation of the musculophrenic and superior epigastric veins.


The internal thoracic veins ascend posterior to the upper six costal cartilages, lateral to the sternum. At the level of the third costal cartilage, the venae comitantes unite forming a single right and left internal thoracic vein, which continue to ascend medial to the internal thoracic artery. The internal thoracic vein drains into the brachiocephalic vein on its corresponding side.


The anterior intercostal veins and perforating tributaries drain into the internal thoracic veins.

Structures Drained

The thoracic veins drain the corresponding intercostal spaces via the anterior intercostal veins. Perforating tributaries accompany the perforating arterial branches and anterior cutaneous branches of the intercostal nerves (anterior rami of thoracic nerves) to drain the overlying skin.

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Complete Anatomy