Vein Anatomy

The anatomy of the veins of the lower extremities is complex. Full descriptions can be found in many excellent books and review articles dedicated to the field of phlebology. While the blood vessels called "arteries" bring fresh blood from the heart to the legs "downstream", the veins bring the used blood from the lower extremities to the heart "upstream". Arterial flow is caused by the contractions of the heart and by forces of gravity. The flow in the veins remains constant in spite of the forces of gravity and with minimal help from the heart. Therefore, we have significantly more veins in our legs than arteries. There is only one set of arteries. There are at least two veins for each artery, which is called the deep vein system. Additionally, there is a set of superficial veins in the lesser extremities called the "saphenous system of veins". Deep blood vessels, arteries and deep veins, are surrounded by muscles, while superficial veins are located under the skin in the fatty layer of tissue. The flow of blood in the veins, as opposed to the arteries as mentioned above, depends on two factors. First, the contraction of leg muscles sets the blood in motion. Second, the upstream direction of this motion depends on the integrity and functionality of the venous valves. Each valve represents two small folds located on the opposite sides of the inside lining of the vein - located at about every inch. These valves allow only upward flow of the blood and under normal circumstances prevent the blood from going down.

(212) 575-8346 Book Appointment