Cephalic vein

In human anatomy, the cephalic vein[1] is a superficial vein in the arm.

Cephalic vein
The most frequent variations of the veins of the forearm.
Drains fromDorsal venous network of hand
Drains toAxillary vein and median cubital vein
ArteryDeltoid branch of thoracoacromial artery
LatinVena cephalica
Anatomical terminology

It communicates with the basilic vein via the median cubital vein at the elbow and is located in the superficial fascia along the anterolateral surface of the biceps brachii muscle.

Near the shoulder, the cephalic vein passes between the deltoid and pectoralis major muscles (deltopectoral groove) and through the deltopectoral triangle, where it empties into the axillary vein.

Clinical significance

The cephalic vein is often visible through the skin, and its location in the deltopectoral groove is fairly consistent, making this site a good candidate for venous access. Permanent pacemaker leads are often placed in the cephalic vein in the deltopectoral groove. The vein may be used for intravenous access, as large bore cannula may be easily placed.[2] However, the cannulation of a vein as close to the radial nerve as the cephalic vein can sometimes lead to nerve damage.[2]


Ordinarily the term cephalic refers to anatomy of the head. When the Persian Muslim physician Ibn Sīnā's Canon was translated into medieval Latin, cephalic was mistakenly chosen to render the Arabic term al-kífal, meaning "outer".[3][4]

Additional images

See also


  1. "BodyMaps: Median basilic vein". Healthline Networks, Inc. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  2. "BodyMaps: Cephalic vein". Healthline Networks, Inc. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  3. Diab, Mohammad (1999). Lexicon of orthopaedic etymology. Taylor & Francis. p. 54. ISBN 978-90-5702-597-6.
  4. Swenson, Rand. "Etymology of shoulder and arm terms". Dartmouth Medical School: © O'Rahilly 2008. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
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