Venous system

The blood's path back to the heart

Vein thrombosis anatomy

Anatomy of the venous system

The venous system is that part of the circulation in which the blood is transported from the periphery back to the heart. We distinguish between the superficial and the deep venous systems.

The superficial subcutaneous venous system in the legs includes the long saphenous vein and the short saphenous vein. It transports the blood from the surface (skin and subcutaneous tissues) where it collects in the deep veins.

The deep venous system includes the iliac, femoral, popliteal and deep femoral veins. The deep veins generally run parallel to the corresponding arteries.

These two venous systems are separated from each other by connective tissue fascia and muscles and are connected by a third venous system – the perforating veins (=communicating veins).

The venous wall consists of three layers:

  •     intima (= inner layer)
  •     media (= middle layer) and
  •     adventitia (= outer layer)

The walls of the veins are thinner than those of the arteries. They are more distensible because they contain fewer elastic and muscle fibres.

The veins have crescent-shaped valves at longer intervals in the lumen that divide the long vessels into segments. These valves open as soon as the blood is pressed upwards towards the centre of the body against gravity and close in the instant that the blood comes to a "standstill" and would start to flow backwards.

Circulation of the blood

Compression stockings from medi