Internal jugular vein
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The internal jugular vein (IJV) is the major venous return from the brain, upper face and neck.
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 posterior to the space between the two heads of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, before uniting with the subclavian vein to form the brachiocephalic vein.
inferior petrosal sinus (origin)
sigmoid dural venous sinus (origin)
A handy mnemonic to recall the tributaries of the internal jugular vein is:
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surrounded by accompanying lymph nodes
relation to internal carotid artery
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)