Cephalic vein

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

In human anatomy, the cephalic vein is a superficial vein in the arm. It originates from the radial end of the dorsal venous network of hand, and ascends along the radial (lateral) side of the arm before emptying into the axillary vein. At the elbow, it communicates with the basilic vein via the median cubital vein.


The cephalic vein is situated within the superficial fascia along the anterolateral surface of the biceps.[citation needed]


The cephalic vein forms over the anatomical snuffbox at the radial end of the dorsal venous network of hand.: 983 

Course and relations

From its origin, it ascends up the lateral aspect of the radius.

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


It communicates with the basilic vein via the median cubital vein at the elbow.[citation needed]

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. However, the cannulation of a vein as close to the radial nerve as the cephalic vein can sometimes lead to nerve damage.[medical citation needed]


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".

Additional images

See also

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