Variations of the External and Internal Jugular Veins: A Fetal Study

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P. Pillay; S. Ishwarkumar & K. S. Satyapal


The external jugular vein (EJV) is formed by the union of the posterior division of the retromandibular vein and posterior auricular vein, while the internal jugular vein (IJV) is a continuation of the sigmoid sinus. A number of variations in the formation, lengths and drainage patterns of EJV and IJV have been documented in adults, however there is a paucity of literature regarding fetal studies. This study aimed to highlight variation patterns of external and internal jugular veins in 40 fetuses (n=80). This study included the bilaterally dissection of the neck region in 40 fetuses between the gestational ages of 15-28 weeks at the University of KwaZulu-Natal as per Grants Dissector. This study observed three variations in the pattern of the EJV and IJV. With regard to the EJV, duplication occurred on the sternocleidomastoid muscle in 4 % of the specimens sampled in this study, which concurred to a study conducted by Olabu et al. (2015) in a Kenyan sample. The “Y-shaped” IJV occurred in 1 % of the specimens, however the “Y-shaped” IJV gave off a tributary to the EJV in 3 % of the specimens sampled in this study. Lalwani et al. (2006) stated a rare venous communication between the EJV and IJV. The knowledge of the variable patterns of the external and internal jugular veins are important to clinicians performing micro-vascular surgeries in head and neck region.

KEY WORDS: External jugular vein; Internal jugular vein; Anatomical variation; Fetal.

How to cite this article

PILLAY, P.; ISHWARKUMAR, S. & SATYAPAL, K. S. Variations of the external and internal jugular veins: A fetal study. Int. J. Morphol., 36(1):145-148, 2018.