Lateral thoracic vein
Citation, DOI, disclosures and article data
At the time the article was created Daniel J Bell had no recorded disclosures.View Daniel J Bell's current disclosures
At the time the article was last revised Daniel J Bell had no recorded disclosures.View Daniel J Bell's current disclosures
The lateral thoracic vein (TA: vena thoracica lateralis) is a tributary of the axillary vein. It provides venous drainage for the axilla, anterolateral chest wall, including serratus anterior and pectoralis muscles and breast, and the supraumbilical abdominal wall.
On this page:
In some texts, the term "long thoracic vein" is used as a synonym for the lateral thoracic vein, however this is an erroneous usage. Long thoracic vein does not appear in Terminologia Anatomica, nor in the 1918 edition of Gray's Anatomy 7,8. It has likely arisen due to an inadvertent mix-up with the long thoracic nerve which supplies serratus anterior muscle, and which when abbreviated by some to LTV, shares the same initialism as the lateral thoracic vein 9.
- location: anterior chest and abdominal walls, breast, axilla
- origin and termination: forms from superficial veins in the anterior abdominal wall, drains into the axillary vein anteromedial to the thoracodorsal pedicle 4,5
- drainage: serratus anterior and pectoralis muscles
- tributaries: thoracoepigastric vein, superficial veins of breast, axilla, and abdominal wall
- variable drainage patterns, most commonly (~85%) the lateral thoracic vein drains directly into the axillary vein; in a minority of patients the lateral thoracic vein merges with other small veins first, most commonly this is the subscapular vein 4,5
The lateral thoracic vein has an important role as a collateral venous pathway when superior vena cava obstruction or inferior vena cava obstruction is present. In superior vena cava obstruction there is reversal of normal physiological flow of venous blood through the axillary vein, via lateral thoracic vein to the thoracoepigastric vein, which drains into the superficial epigastric vein.
- 1. FIPAT. Terminologia Anatomica. 2nd Ed. FIPAT.library.dal.ca. Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology, 2019. https://fipat.library.dal.ca/TA2/
- 2. Chummy S. Sinnatamby. Last's Anatomy. (2011) ISBN: 9780702033940 - Google Books
- 3. Meier A & Alkadhi H. Venous Collateral Pathways in Superior Thoracic Inlet Obstruction: A Systematic Analysis of Anatomy, Embryology, and Resulting Patterns. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2019;213(1):200-10. doi:10.2214/AJR.18.20172 - Pubmed
- 4. Khan A, Chakravorty A, Gui G. In Vivo Study of the Surgical Anatomy of the Axilla. Br J Surg. 2012;99(6):871-7. doi:10.1002/bjs.8737 - Pubmed
- 5. Sollazzo V, Luglio G, Esposito E et al. Venous Anomalies of the Axilla: A Single-Institution Experience. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2017;29(Suppl 1):139-42. doi:10.1007/s40520-016-0673-8 - Pubmed
- 6. Soares E. Anatomical Variations of the Axilla. Springerplus. 2014;3(1):306. doi:10.1186/2193-1801-3-306 - Pubmed
- 7. FIPAT. Terminologia Anatomica. 2nd Ed. FIPAT.library.dal.ca. Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology, 2019. https://fipat.library.dal.ca/TA2/
- 8. Gray, H. Anatomy of the Human Body. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1918; Bartleby.com, 2000. www.bartleby.com/107/
- 9. Miller GA, Friedman A, Khariton A, Jotwani MC, Savransky Y. Long thoracic vein embolization for the treatment of breast edema associated with central venous occlusion and venous hypertension. J Vasc Access. 2010 Apr-Jun;11(2):115-21. doi: 10.1177/112972981001100206. PMID: 20119913.