Anatomy and function of the brachiocephalic vein
The left and right brachiocephalic veins (or innominate veins) in the upper chest are formed by the union of each corresponding internal jugular vein and subclavian vein. It is at the level of the sternoclavicular joint. The left brachiocephalic vein is usually longer than the right.
These veins merge to form the superior vena cava, a great vessel, behind the junction of the first costal cartilage with the manubrium sternum.
Brachiocephalic veins are the major veins that return blood to the superior vena cava.
Tributaries of the brachiocephalic veins
The brachiocephalic vein is formed at the confluence of the subclavian and internal jugular veins. In addition it receives drainage from:
The two brachiocephalic veins merge with the azygos vein, which carries deoxygenated blood from the rib cage, creating a superior vena cava. The blood flowing from the superior vena cava into the heart is controlled by the contraction of the heart.
Abnormalities in the neck, such as compression of the trachea (windpipe), such as by the brachiocephalic vein on either side of the neck or on both sides of the neck, are associated with apnea in infants. Apnea is a condition where breathing stops abnormally and begins during sleep. Magnetic resonance imaging is used to diagnose the condition. A tracheostomy is sometimes required to correct the problem. A tracheostomy is a surgical cut in the neck, which is usually made so that the patient can use a breathing tube.