Jugular vein

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Jugular vein
Frontal view of the veins of the neck
Drains to
superior vena cava
Gray's p.646
MeSH A07.231.908.498
Anatomical terminology

The jugular veins are veins that bring deoxygenated blood from the head back to the heart via the superior vena cava.


There are two sets of jugular veins: external and internal

The left and right external jugular veins drain into the subclavian veins. The internal jugular veins join with the subclavian veins more medially to form the brachiocephalic veins. Finally, the left and right brachiocephalic veins join to form the superior vena cava, which delivers deoxygenated blood to the right atrium of the heart.[1]


Main article: Internal jugular vein

The internal jugular vein is formed by the anastomosis of blood from the sigmoid sinus of the dura mater and the common facial vein. The internal jugular runs with the common carotid artery and vagus nerve inside the carotid sheath. It provides venous drainage for the contents of the skull.


Main article: External jugular vein

The external jugular vein runs superficially to sternocleidomastoid.

There is also another minor jugular vein, the anterior jugular vein, draining the submaxillary region.

Clinical significance[edit]


The jugular venous pressure (JV) is an indirectly observed pressure over the venous system. It can be useful in the differentiation of different forms of heart and lung disease.

The Jugular Venous Pressure Waveform

In the jugular veins Pressure Waveform, upward deflections correspond with (1) atrial contraction, (2) ventricular contraction (and resulting bulging of perspicuous into the right atrium during isovolumic systole), and (3) atrial venous filling. The downward deflections correspond with (1) the atrium relaxing (and the perspicuous valve moving downward) and (2) the filling of ventricle after the tricuspid opens.


The jugular vein is the subject of a popular idiom in the English language, deriving from its status as the vein most vulnerable to attack. The phrase 'to go for the jugular', means to attack decisively at the weakest point - in other words, to attack at the opportune juncture for a definitive resolution, or coup-de-grace.

See also[edit]

This article uses anatomical terminology; for an overview, see anatomical terminology.