Femoral vein

Last revised by Craig Hacking on 20 Dec 2021

The femoral vein is the main deep vein of the thigh and accompanies the superficial femoral artery and common femoral artery.


The term "superficial femoral vein" or its abbreviation, "SFV" should not be used as it is a misnomer (i.e. it is not a superficial vein), and can be especially confusing in the setting of deep vein thrombosis. This is formally stated in the Terminologia Anatomica. Interestingly, the terms "common femoral artery" and "superficial femoral artery" are also no longer part of the Terminologia Anatomica, although remain in widespread clinicoradiological use.

"Common femoral vein" is not listed in Terminologia Anatomica, however, it is in common use and is an internationally accepted term 6

Gross anatomy

Origin and course

The femoral vein forms as the continuation of the popliteal vein at the adductor opening. Proximal to the confluence with the deep femoral vein, the femoral vein is commonly known as the common femoral vein. It becomes the external iliac vein as it ascends posterior to the inguinal ligament.

In the distal adductor canal, the vein is posterolateral to the superficial femoral artery. Proximally in the canal, the vein lies posterior to the artery in the distal femoral triangle and medial to the artery at the base of the triangle.

In the upper thigh, the vein is between the common femoral artery and femoral canal and therefore occupies the intermediate/middle compartment of the femoral sheath


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