Also known as the Large, Internal, or Long Saphenous, the Great Saphenous is a superficial vein that runs from the foot to the upper thigh.


The Great Saphenous Vein begins with the merging of the Dorsal Venous Arch and the Dorsal Vein of the big toe. It travels up the medial side of the leg, anastomosing with the Small Saphenous Vein. It is connected to several smaller veins, including the anterior and posterior tibials (located in the shins). At its distal end (the end closest to the groin) it is joined by the superficial epigastic, the superficial iliac circumflex, and the superficial external pudendal vein. This allows it to drain blood from the lower abdominal wall, upper thigh, and groin. It passes through the fossa ovalis, or the saphenous opening, in the fascia lata (a large muscle in the upper thigh) and empties into the Femoral Vein. This occurs just before the inguinal or Poupart's ligament. It is the longest vein in the body.


There is some question about the origin of the term Saphenous. Some believe it is from the Greek "Safaina", or "manifest", owing to its superficial nature along its lower course. However, the anatomist Avicenna referred to the vein as "al-Safin", Arabic for "The Concealed". When the Great Saphenous travels up the thigh it is "concealed" in its own fascial compartment.


Caggiati, A. & Bergan, J. (2002). The saphenous vein: Derivation of its name and its relevant anatomy. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 35(1), 172-175. Retrieved from ScienceDirect.com.
Da Vinci, Leonardo. Leonardo on the Human Body. Published 1983
Gray, Henry. Gray's Anatomy. Crown Publishers, 1977
Marieb, Elaine N. Human Anatomy and Physiology. Sixth Edition. Pearson

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