Cystic vein

Last revised by Dr Henry Knipe on 13 Sep 2021

The cystic veins (TA: venae cysticae) are the main venous drainage of the gallbladder. They subsequently drain into the portal vein.

The cystic veins begin as venules running over the surface of the fundus and body of the gallbladder which merge proximate to the neck of the gallbladder, forming one or two main cystic veins. These are usually small (~1 mm caliber) veins that run alongside the cystic duct, and at right angles to the common bile duct.  The cystic vein(s) then drains into the portal vein, most commonly the right portal vein 1,3,5,6.

The position of the cystic veins serves as a key anatomical landmark of the structures of the triangle of Calot for the surgeons performing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy

For many years, surgical textbooks either did not mention the cystic vein at all or just stated that the venous drainage of the gallbladder was directly into the liver bed. This ignored the fact that the classic anatomical texts clearly stated that the cystic veins were well-known structures.

With the advent of laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the early 1990s, and the routine use of magnification of the gallbladder bed, it was obvious that the cystic veins were not only true vessels but were also fairly constant in their positioning. Nevertheless some well-known (and unnamed!) anatomical textbooks continue to contain incorrect information about venous drainage of the gallbladder 1,3,5.

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