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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.
location: popliteal fossa
It is predominantly located within the popliteal fossa.
Origin and tributaries
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:
small saphenous vein in the lower aspect of the popliteal fossa
veins corresponding to branches of the popliteal artery, namely the genicular arteries
muscular veins, including a large branch from each head of gastrocnemius
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.
- 1. Ethan Sawyer, Margaret A. Sinkler, Prasanna Tadi. Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Popliteal Vein. StatPearls Publishing. 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541078/ - Pubmed
- 2. Sadowska A, Spodnik JH, Wójcik S. Variations in popliteal fossa venous anatomy: implications for diagnosis of deep-vein thrombosis. Folia Morphol (Warsz). 2013 Feb;72(1):51-6