Ductus venosus

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 15 Sep 2021

Ductus venosus (DV) is a narrow, trumpet-shaped vessel which is seen in the fetal liver connecting the umbilical vein directly to the caudal inferior vena cava or distal left hepatic vein. The vessel plays a critical role in the fetal circulation by shunting oxygenated and nutrient-rich umbilical venous blood from the placenta to the brain and myocardium, bypassing the fetal liver.

The ductus undergoes obliteration starting in the second postnatal week beginning at the portal vein end progressing towards IVC over the next first month or two. Complete obliteration occurs in the third month after birth, forming a fibrous remnant known as the ligamentum venosum.

History and etymology

It was first described by anatomist Giulio Cesare Aranzio in the sixteenth century. 

See also 

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: fetal circulation
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  • Figure 2: fetal circulation (diagram)
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  • Figure 3: hepatic venous development (Gray's illustration)
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