Jugular vein

Medical Specialties: Cardiology, Internal medicine

Clinical Definition

The jugular veins include the internal and external jugular, which are major blood vessels, located on each side of the neck. These veins transport deoxygenated blood from the neck, face and head back to the heart. In a physical exam, distention of the jugular veins can be a clinical sign of heart failure. 

In Our Own Words

The jugular veins are major blood vessels in the neck. The internal jugular vein is larger than the external jugular and drains blood from the brain, with blood eventually feeding into the right atrium directly in the sense that there are no valves in between. Both jugular veins transport blood from the face, head and neck back to the heart. The jugular veins can become distended or bulge in some medical conditions, such as heart failure. 

Relevant Conditions
Common Types
  • Internal jugular
  • External jugular
Share this article
  • Tortora, Gerald, Derrickson, Bryan. "Principals of Anatomy and Physiology." Wiley 2011. Accessed November 2013.
  • Lippincott. “Professional Guide to Pathophysiology, Third Edition.” Lippincott Williams and Wilkins 2010. Accessed November 2013.
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. "Selected Veins of the Head and Neck." http://anatomy.uams.edu. Accessed November 2013.
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