What is the anatomy and function of the deep veins of the thigh?

Updated: Jun 05, 2019
  • Author: Kaushal (Kevin) Patel, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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The deep veins of the thigh begin distally with the popliteal vein as it courses proximally behind the knee and then passes through the adductor canal, at which point its name changes to the femoral vein. (This important deep vein is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the superficial femoral vein in a misguided attempt to distinguish it from the profunda femoris, or deep femoral vein, a short, stubby vein that usually has its origin in terminal muscle tributaries within the deep muscles of the lateral thigh but may communicate with the popliteal vein in up to 10% of patients.

The term superficial femoral vein should never be used, because the femoral vein is in fact a deep vein and is not part of the superficial venous system. This incorrect term does not appear in any definitive anatomic atlas, yet it has come into common use in vascular laboratory practice. Confusion arising from use of the inappropriate name has been responsible for many cases of clinical mismanagement and death.) In theproximal thigh,the femoral vein and the deep femoral vein unite to form the common femoral vein, which passes upwards above the groin crease to become the iliac vein.

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