Skip to Main Content


This text conforms to an international standard nomenclature known as the Venous Consensus Conference Classification that last met in 1994.1 Updated nomenclature was adopted in 2002 by an International Interdisciplinary Consensus committee and further elaborated upon in 2005.2,3 In keeping with the updated nomenclature, the term “great saphenous vein” (GSV) will be used for the vessel previously referred to as the “greater saphenous vein” or “long saphenous vein.” The term “small saphenous vein” (SSV) will be used for the vessel previously referred to as the “lesser saphenous vein” (LSV) or sometimes referred to in recent texts as the “short saphenous vein.” The previous use of LSV was often a source of confusion with the lateral venous system (LVS) described later. Veins that penetrate the fascia and connect together the deep and superficial systems are termed perforator veins. Many perforating veins have had recent name changes to reflect anatomic position rather than the physician originally describing them.

Veins that connect to other veins within the same fascial plane are referred to as communicating veins. The principal deep vein of the thigh is termed the “femoral vein,” which, together with the deep femoral vein (DFV), is termed as the “common femoral vein” under the new nomenclature and was previously referred to as the superficial femoral vein. Under the new nomenclature the principle deep veins of the thigh are the femoral vein (FV) and deep femoral vein (DFV). These two veins join just distal to the inguinal ligament to form the common femoral vein (CFV). The femoral vein (FV) was previously referred to as the “superficial femoral vein” which caused confusion since it is not a superficial vein and has led to death or disability for many patients with deep vein thrombosis. A summary of the updated nomenclature is included in Table 2-1. Important changes are listed for convenience in Table 2-2.

TABLE 2-1Outline of Major Standard Nomenclature of Venous Anatomy of the Leg with Abbreviations
TABLE 2-2Summary of Important Changes in Vein Anatomy Terminology

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.