Hepatic veins

The hepatic veins are three large veins which drain the hepatic parenchyma into the inferior vena cava (IVC), named the right hepatic vein, middle hepatic vein and left hepatic vein. The veins are important landmarks, running in between and hence defining the segments of the liver. There are separate smaller veins draining the caudate lobe of the liver.

The right hepatic vein runs at the right hepatic fissure and drains segments V, VI, VII and VIII. The plane of the right hepatic vein separates the segments VI and VII (which are posterior to this plane) and segments VIII and V (which are located anterior to this plane).

Variant anatomy 

It is a single dominant vein in ~70% (range 60-78%) of individuals. There may be early bifurcation, early trifurcation or even multiple right hepatic veins entering the IVC. This may make it difficult to deduce segmental anatomy of the liver.

The middle hepatic vein runs at the middle hepatic fissure and drains segments IV, V and VIII. The plane of the middle hepatic vein separates the segments VIII and V (which are posterolateral to this plane) from segment IV (which is located anteromedial to this plane).

The left hepatic vein runs partially at the fissure for the ligamentum teres and at the left hepatic fissure:

  • it drains segments II, III, and IV
  • it is always anterior to the left portal vein
  • the plane of the left hepatic vein separates segment IV from segments II and III

The caudate lobe veins (or a single vessel) drain directly into the IVC.

Abdominal and pelvic anatomy
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Article information

rID: 16237
Section: Anatomy
Tags: refs, anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Right hepatic vein
  • Middle hepatic vein
  • Left hepatic vein
  • Liver veins
  • Hepatic venous system

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