Inferior anastomotic vein

Last revised by Craig Hacking on 19 Oct 2023

The inferior anastomotic vein, also known as the vein of Labbé, is part of the superficial venous system of the brain

Gross anatomy

The vein of Labbé is the largest venous channel on the lateral surface of the brain that crosses the temporal lobe between the Sylvian fissure and the transverse sinus. It courses posteroinferiorly from the mid-Sylvian fissure connecting the superficial middle cerebral vein (Sylvian vein) to the anterolateral portion of the transverse sinus.1

The frequency with which the vein of Labbé is identified varies across publications and modalities and is anywhere between 25-97% of cases. Its location is also highly variable 1:

  • mid-temporal region: 60%

  • posterior temporal: 30%

  • anterior temporal: 10%

The anatomy of the vein itself is also variable, with a dominant single channel, multiple branching channels and even venous lakes having been described. It may drain directly into the transverse sinus or indirectly via the tentorium and its presence is less variable than the superior anastomotic vein of Trolard 3.

Along with draining the brain immediately adjacent to it, the vein of Labbé also gathers draining tributaries from medial, anteroinferior, and posteroinferior temporal lobe in 80% of cadaveric dissection. 

As can be surmised by first principles, there is an inverse relationship between the size of the terminal Sylvian vein, the vein of Trolard, and the vein of Labbé, as all three share a similar drainage territory 3, 4. Usually either the vein of Labbé or Trolard are dominant, both are small with the Sylvian vein being dominant or both are co-dominant with a small Sylvian vein. Occasionally the veins of Labbé and Trolard anastomose with themselves and bypass the Sylvain vein 3.

Surgically it is of importance in planning temporal lobectomy for refractory temporal epilepsy, as the vein should be preserved, often requiring some cortical tissue to be left behind. This is especially the case in the 10% of cases where the vein is located anteriorly. 

History and etymology

It is eponymously named after French surgeon Charles Labbé (1851-1889) who described it in his 3rd year of medical school in 1879.1 He published an article on the venous circulation of the brain when supervised by the prominent surgeon Paul Jules Tillaux, describing the inferior anastomotic vein and its relationship with the superior anastomotic vein, which had earlier been decsribed by the French doctor and anatomist Jean Baptiste Paulin Trolard 5.

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: lateral superfical veins of the brain
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 3: venous vascular territories of the lateral cerebral cortex (illustration)
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 2: venous vascular territories (illustration)
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 1: lateral venogram
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2: lateral venogram
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 3: MRA
    Drag here to reorder.