What is the anatomy and function of the external iliac vein?

Updated: Jul 05, 2017
  • Author: Kaushal (Kevin) Patel, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

The external iliac vein is the continuation of the femoral vein as it passes upward behind the inguinal ligament. At the level of the sacroiliac joint, it unites with the hypogastric vein to form the common iliac vein. The left common iliac is longer than the right and more oblique in its course, passing behind the right common iliac artery. This anatomic asymmetry sometimes results in compression of the left common iliac vein by the right common iliac artery to produce May-Thurner syndrome, a left-sided iliac outflow obstruction with localized adventitial fibrosis and intimal proliferation, often with associated deep venous thrombosis. At the level of the fifth lumbar vertebra, the 2 common iliac veins come together at an acute angle to form the inferior vena cava.

Please go to the main article on Inferior Vena Caval Thrombosis for more information.


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