Internal jugular vein
The internal jugular vein is a blood vessel that drains blood from important body organs and parts, such as the brain, face, and neck. The vein appears dilated at two points, and these distinct parts are called the superior bulb and the inferior bulb. Anatomically, there are two of these veins that lie along both sides of the neck. It rests beside the thyroid gland, near the trachea. The vein functions to carry deoygenated blood from the brain, face, and neck, and transport it to the heart through the superior vena cava. Generally, the left vein is somewhat smaller and thinner than the right, but both contain valves that help in blood transport. The vein plays an important role in assessing jugular vein pressure, especially among those with heart disorders. Because the vein is also larger than most of its kind, it is commonly used as an entry point to place venous lines. Because of its superficial location, the internal jugular vein is quite susceptible to injury, trauma, or damage. There are also no strong structures like bones or cartilages that protect this vein. When blood flow to the vein is impeded or affected, shock or death can occur.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Internal jugular vein