Great saphenous vein

Mr Andrew Murphy and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

The great saphenous vein (GSV) forms part of the superficial venous system of the lower limb

The GSV lies within the subcutaneous tissues of the leg in the thigh in the saphenous compartment, which is bounded posteriorly by the deep fascia and superficially by the saphenous fascia 3

The GSV forms on the dorsum of the foot as the continuation of the medial marginal vein of the foot. It then passes anteriorly to the medial malleolus to ascend at first medial to and then posterior to the medial aspect of the tibia.

The GSV then winds its way around the medial aspect of the knee and continues upwards in the medial aspect of the thigh to pierce the saphenous opening of the deep fascia of the thigh, 1-3 cm distal to the inguinal ligament, to drain into the femoral vein at the saphenofemoral junction (SFJ) in the femoral triangle

There is a constant (~99%) presence of a valve 1-2 mm distal to the SFJ 3

  • small saphenous vein (SSV): communicating branches in the region of the popliteal fossa
  • lateral accessory vein
  • superficial epigastric vein
  • superficial circumflex iliac vein
  • superficial external iliac vein
  • superficial external pudendal vein
  • deep external iliac vein

It communicates throughout its entire length with deep venous system via perforating veins 1-2.

  • below the knee, the branches of the saphenous nerve are located posteriorly and anteriorly 1,3
  • above the knee the saphenous nerve is not closely related (i.e. is not within the saphenous compartment) 3
  • segmental hypoplasia 3
  • duplication: only in the thigh; ~1% of the population 3
    • duplicated GSV lies within the saphenous compartment
  • accessory saphenous veins: ascend with the SSV or GSV
    • lie outside the saphenous compartment 3
  • appears as "Egyptian eye" or "sonographic eye sign" 3
    • upper eyelid: echogenic linear saphenous fascia
    • eye: GSV
    • lower eyelid: echogenic linear deep fascia
Lower limb anatomy
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Article information

rID: 28682
System: Vascular
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Great saphenous vein (GSV)
  • Long saphenous vein (LSV)

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