Great cardiac vein

The great cardiac vein (GCV) runs in the anterior interventricular groove and drains the anterior aspect of the heart.

Gross anatomy

It is a vein on the anterior surface of the heart, which is the venous complement of the left anterior descending artery within the anterior interventricular groove. It is a tributary of the coronary sinus.


The relationship of the great cardiac vein to the left anterior descending artery is highly variable. In 60-70% of cases, the vein is superficial to the artery.


The vein drains the:

  • anterior surface of both ventricles (up to and including the apex)
  • anterior interventricular septum
  • portions of the left atrium

Variant anatomy

Knowledge of variants may be useful for preoperative planning.

Thoracic anatomy
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Article information

rID: 34284
Systems: Cardiac, Vascular
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • GCV
  • left coronary vein

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