Occipital vein

Medically reviewed by Healthline Medical Team on April 15, 2015Published on April 15, 2015

The occipital emissary vein is also known as the occipital vein. This small vein passes through the condylar canal, an opening in the occipital bone, near the base of the skull. This vein drains the occipital region, located at the back of the brain.

The occipital vein supplies the internal jugular vein. It may also supply the suboccipital vein. Occipital veins include superficial veins, those that are close to the surface of the body.

These veins drain into the occipital cortex at the back of the head, then empty into the transverse sinus and superior sagittal sinus, which are cavities in the brain that help with the drainage of deoxygenated blood. The occipital vein follows the path of the occipital artery in reverse. It opens into the suboccipital venous plexus — a network of veins located in the neck, just below the occipital bone — after it reaches the underside of the trapezius muscle — a large muscle that extends from the occipital bone to the mid-back and shoulder. The trapezius is one of the muscles that stabilizes and moves the arm, neck, and shoulder.

The occipital vein's main location is the scalp. Aneurysms (weak, bulging vessels) or bleeds of the occipital vein will likely occur more slowly than they would in arteries. Veins, such as the occipital vein, may become blocked and cause trouble with the lungs, heart, or brain.

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