Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-13-2022

Document Type



Krinke, R., Yoachim, S. 2022. Venous Drainage Patterns in the Head and Neck; Associated Variations and Health Implications. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Rachael Krinke, Shayla Yoachim 2022.


Venous drainage is the return of deoxygenated blood from systemic circulation to the cardiopulmonary system for oxygenation. The complexity of the cardiovascular system demands the detailed and intricate collaboration of veins, capillaries, and arteries. However, variations can occur that result in atypical venous connections. This study aimed to (1) detect common variations in venous drainage patterns in the head and neck by the analysis of human cadavers, (2) determine if superficial venous drainage patterns can be distinguished by visual inspection alone, and (3) relay the significance of superficially determined venous patterns for healthcare. Human cadavers from the Nebraska Deeded Body Program and UNMC were studied to detect venous drainage variation. The length of each common facial vein was recorded and pictures of the necks of living subjects were taken to observe superficial venous patterns. Five variations were found within the human cadaver population. The most common pattern showed a connected FV and ARMV to form the CFV which drained into the IJV. The other variations were as followed: the FV and ARMV drained into the EJV, the FV and ARMV drained into the AJV, the FV drained into the IJV while the ARMV drained into the EJV, and the FV and ARMV drained into the IJV separately. The average length of the CFV was 22.80 mm. Four pictures showed the branching of veins in the neck and while only the EJV was seen in nine pictures, there was relative consistency in the observed venous patterns through visual inspection. Superficial veins are used for catheter placement, carotid endarterectomies, transjugular biopsies and dialysis. The determination of venous patterns in the neck may be better distinguished using sonography than palpation and observation alone. The ability to map venous drainage patterns superficially is beneficial, as surgery and invasive treatments can be avoided which reduces patient harm.