Perforating veins of the lower limb

Last revised by Bálint Botz on 4 Jul 2022

The perforating veins of the lower limb (PV or “perforators”) are so called because they perforate the deep fascia of muscles, to connect the superficial venous systems of the lower extremity with the deep veins where they drain. There are numerous veins in variable arrangement, connection, size, and distribution. In the lower limb the Terminologia Anatomica (TA) generally considers there to be 6 groups of them 3

Perforators of the foot (venae perforantes pedis) 
  • dorsal foot perforators
  • intercapitular veins
  • plantar foot perforators
  • lateral foot perforators
  • medial foot perforators
Perforators of the ankle (venae perforantis tarsalis)
  • medial ankle perforators
  • anterior ankle perforators
  • lateral ankle perforators
Perforators of the leg (venae perforantes cruris)

See main article here: perforators of the leg

  • medial leg perforators
    • paratibial PV
    • posterior tibial PV
  • anterior leg perforators
  • lateral leg perforators
  • posterior leg perforators
    • medial gastrocnemius perforators
    • lateral gastrocnemius perforators
    • intergemellar perforators
    • para-Achillean perforators
Perforators of the knee (venae perforantes genus)
  • medial knee perforators
  • suprapatellar perforators
  • lateral knee perforators
  • infrapatellar perforators
  • popliteal fossa perforators
Perforators of the thigh (venae perforantes femoris)
  • medial thigh perforators  
    • perforators of the femoral canal (Dodd)
    • inguinal perforators
  • anterior thigh perforators
  • lateral thigh perforators
  • posterior thigh perforators
    • posteromedial thigh perforators
    • sciatic perforators
    • posterolateral thigh perforators “perforator of Hach”
    • pudendal perforators
Perforators of the gluteal muscles (venae perforantes glutealis)
  • superior perforators
  • mid perforators
  • lower perforators

History and etymology

Historically some perforating veins had eponymous names such as 4,5:

  • Hunter veins (at thigh level)
  • Dodd's perforators (inferior 1/3 of the thigh, above the knee)
  • Boyd's perforators (at or below the knee level)
  • Cockett's perforators (at the level of the calf and inferior 2/3 of the leg). Cockett's perforators were further subdivided into: superior, medium and inferior perforators

However according to the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists (IFAA), and the Federative International Committee on Anatomical Terminology (FICAT); Lower extremity perforators are grouped on the basis of their topography and descriptive terms designating location are used to name them 3.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: dilation due to insufficiency
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