Popliteal vein

Last revised by Aric Lee on 9 Feb 2023

The popliteal vein is a component of the deep venous system of the lower limb. It forms from the peroneal, posterior tibial and anterior tibial veins and ascends through the popliteal fossa to the adductor hiatus alongside the popliteal artery where it becomes the femoral vein 1.

It is predominantly located within the popliteal fossa.

The popliteal vein originates at the level of the popliteus muscle, where it is formed by the peroneal, anterior tibial and posterior tibial veins. Other tributaries include:

As it passes through the adductor hiatus, it becomes the femoral vein.

Its relationship to the popliteal artery changes as the vein ascends, but it is always between the popliteal artery and tibial nerve. Distally it is medial to the artery, between the heads of gastrocnemius it is superficial (posterior) to it, and proximal to the knee joint it is posterolateral to the artery.

In some patients, the popliteal vein may originate more proximally, nearer the adductor hiatus. Rarely, duplication of the popliteal vein may occur 2.

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: popliteal vein (Gray's illustration)
    Drag here to reorder.