Internal jugular vein

Dr Owen Kang and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

The internal jugular vein (IJV) is the major venous return from the brain, upper face and neck.

Gross anatomy

Origin and course

It is formed by the union of inferior petrosal and sigmoid dural venous sinuses in or just distal to the jugular foramen (forming the jugular bulb). It descends in the carotid sheath with the internal carotid artery. The vagus nerve (CN X) lies between the two.

After receiving tributaries from the face and neck (listed below) it continues to descend before descending into the thorax, usually between the heads of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, before uniting with the subclavian vein to form the brachiocephalic vein.

Tributaries

A handy mnemonic to recall the internal jugular vein is:

  • Medical Schools Let Fun People In
Relations
  • surrounded by accompanying lymph nodes
  • relation to internal carotid artery
    • C2: posteriorly
    • C3: posterolaterally
    • C4: laterally
      • vagus nerve (CN X) always situated between the ICA and IJV
  • anteriorly (i.e. is crossed by these structures)
  • posteriorly (from superior to inferior as the IJV descends in the neck)
Head and neck anatomy
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Article information

rID: 24265
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • IJV
  • Internal jugular vein (IJV)
  • Internal jugular veins

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Cases and figures

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    Figure 1: head and neck veins
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