Femoral vein

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List of terms related to Femoral vein

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


In the human body, the femoral vein is a blood vessel that accompanies the femoral artery in the femoral sheath. It begins at the adductor canal (also known as Hunter's canal) and is a continuation of the popliteal vein. It ends at the inferior margin of the inguinal ligament, where it becomes the external iliac vein.


Several large veins drain into the femoral vein:

Clinical significance

Occlusion of the femoral vein can be life-threatening.[1]

The practice of delivering recreational drugs intravenously using the femoral vein is relatively common amongst injecting drug users (IDUs).[2]

Use of the term superficial femoral vein

The term superficial femoral vein is not recognized as a legitimate anatomic term.[3]

However, some specialist physicians (e.g. radiologists, vascular surgeons) use the term superficial femoral vein for the distal part of the femoral vein to:

  1. differentiate the femoral vein segments before and after the profunda femoris vein joins with it, and
  2. differentiate the distal segment of the femoral vein from the deep femoral vein (profunda femoris vein), which is paired with the profunda femoris artery.

Usage of this term is discouraged by many physicians because it leads to confusion among general medical practitioners.[1]

The femoral vein is considered a deep vein, unlike the adjective superficial suggests and has led some physicians to falsely conclude it is a superficial vein, which has resulted in patients (with deep vein thrombosis) being denied efficacious thrombolytic therapy.[3]

Additional images


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bundens WP, Bergan JJ, Halasz NA, Murray J, Drehobl M. The superficial femoral vein. A potentially lethal misnomer. JAMA. 1995 Oct 25;274(16):1296-8. PMID 7563535.
  2. Maliphant J, Scott J. Use of the femoral vein ('groin injecting') by a sample of needle exchange clients in Bristol, UK. Harm Reduction Journal 2005, 2:6. Free Full Text.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hammond I. The superficial femoral vein. Radiology. 2003 Nov;229(2):604; discussion 604-6. PMID 14595157. Full Text.

Additional Resources

  • The Disease Database
  • Kahan, Scott, Smith, Ellen G. In A Page: Signs and Symptoms. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2004:3
  • Sailer, Christian, Wasner, Susanne. Differential Diagnosis Pocket. Hermosa Beach, CA: Borm Bruckmeir Publishing LLC, 2002:7

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The content on this page was first contributed by: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D.

List of contributors:

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