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Subclavian Vein
Cardiovascular System

Subclavian Vein

Vena subclavia

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Quick Facts

Origin: Axillary vein.

Course: Superomedially, to the internal jugular vein where it forms the brachiocephalic vein.

Tributaries: External jugular vein and thoracic duct (left) or right lymphatic duct (right).

Drainage: Entire upper limb.

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The subclavian vein is the continuation of the axillary vein. It originates from the external border of the first rib.


The subclavian vein courses medially and runs between the distal margin of the scalenus anterior and sternocleidomastoid muscles. At the medial border of the scalenus anterior muscle, it terminates by joining the internal jugular vein, thus forming the brachiocephalic vein. There are two valves approximately 2 cm prior to its unification with the internal jugular vein, which ensure unidirectional blood flow into the brachiocephalic vein (Standring, 2016).


The subclavian vein receives the external jugular vein. The thoracic duct drains into the left subclavian vein and the right lymphatic duct drains into the right subclavian vein. The subclavian vein then unites with the internal jugular vein to form the brachiocephalic vein.

Structures Drained

The subclavian vein receives all the deoxygenated blood from the upper limb.

List of Clinical Correlates

- Subclavian vein puncture


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

Subclavian Vein

ScienceDirect image

18 The subclavian vein courses anterior to the anterior scalene muscle as it passes over the first rib, before joining the subclavian artery and brachial plexus as they pass through the costoclavicular space and continue beneath the coracoid process, posterior to the pectoralis minor muscle.

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