Cephalic vein

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Cephalic vein
Sobo 1909 597.png
The most frequent variations of the veins of the forearm.
Latin Vena cephalica
Dorsal venous network of hand
Drains to
Axillary vein and median cubital vein
Deltoid branch of thoracoacromial artery
TA A12.3.08.015
FMA 13324
Anatomical terminology

In human anatomy, the cephalic vein (also known as the antecubital vein[1])is a superficial vein of the upper limb.

It communicates with the basilic vein via the median cubital vein at the elbow and is located in the superficial fascia along the anterolateral surface of the biceps brachii muscle.

Superiorly the cephalic vein passes between the deltoid and pectoralis major muscles (deltopectoral groove) and through the deltopectoral triangle, where it empties into the axillary vein.

The cephalic vein is often visible through the skin, and its location in the deltopectoral groove is fairly consistent, making this site a good candidate for venous access. Permanent pacemaker leads are often placed in the cephalic vein in the deltopectoral groove. The vein may be used for intravenous access, and is sometimes referred to as the 'House-man's Friend' because a large bore cannula may be easily placed.[2] However, the cannulation of a vein as close to the radial nerve as the cephalic vein can sometimes lead to nerve damage.[2]


Ordinarily the term cephalic refers to anatomy of the head. When Persian physician Ibn Sīnā's Canon was translated into medieval Latin, cephalic was mistakenly chosen to render the Arabic term al-kífal, meaning "outer".[3][4]

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See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BodyMaps: Median basilic vein". Healthline Networks, Inc. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "BodyMaps: Cephalic vein". Healthline Networks, Inc. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Diab, Mohammad (1999). Lexicon of orthopaedic etymology. Taylor & Francis. p. 54. ISBN 978-90-5702-597-6. 
  4. ^ Swenson, Rand. "Etymology of shoulder and arm terms". Dartmouth Medical School: © O'Rahilly 2008. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 

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