Small saphenous vein

Last revised by Yoshi Yu on 12 Apr 2023

The small saphenous vein (SSV) forms part of the superficial venous drainage of the lower limb.

Small saphenous vein is the preferred terminology over other terms such as short saphenous vein, external saphenous vein or lesser saphenous vein 5

The small saphenous vein forms by the confluence of the lateral aspect of the dorsal venous network of the foot (lateral marginal vein). It passes behind the lateral malleolus and courses directly superiorly in the subcutaneous tissue of the calf. It perforates the deep fascia (fascia lata) to enter the lower aspect of the popliteal fossa and drain into the popliteal vein.

Communicates with deep venous system via numerous perforating veins

  • duplication occurs in ~3.5% of the population 3

  • variable termination (i.e. not into the popliteal vein in the popliteal fossa) 3

    • thigh extension of small saphenous vein (known as the vein of Giacomini): courses between biceps femoris and semimembranosus muscles and drains into superficial, perforating or deep veins; prevalence ~80% 3

      • variable presence of communicating branches with the popliteal vein

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: superficial veins of the lower limb (Gray's illustration)
    Drag here to reorder.