Reference > Anatomy of the Human Body > Page 667
Henry Gray (1825–1861).  Anatomy of the Human Body.  1918.

Relations.In front are the anterior margins of the right lung and pleura with the pericardium intervening below; these separate it from the first and second intercostal spaces and from the second and third right costal cartilages; behind it are the root of the right lung and the right vagus nerve. On its right side are the phrenic nerve and right pleura; on its left side, the commencement of the innominate artery and the ascending aorta, the latter overlapping it. Just before it pierces the pericardium, it receives the azygos vein and several small veins from the pericardium and other contents of the mediastinal cavity. The portion contained within the pericardium is covered, in front and laterally, by the serous layer of the membrane. The superior vena cava has no valves.
  The azygos vein (v. azygos; vena azygos major) begins opposite the first or second lumbar vertebra, by a branch, the ascending lumbar vein (page 678); sometimes by a branch from the right renal vein, or from the inferior vena cava. It enters the thorax through the aortic hiatus in the diaphragm, and passes along the right side of the vertebral column to the fourth thoracic vertebra, where it arches forward over the root of the right lung, and ends in the superior vena cava, just before that vessel pierces the pericardium. In the aortic hiatus, it lies with the thoracic duct on the right side of the aorta; in the thorax it lies upon the intercostal arteries, on the right side of the aorta and thoracic duct, and is partly covered by pleura.

Tributaries.—It receives the right subcostal and intercostal veins, the upper three or four of these latter opening by a common stem, the highest superior intercostal vein. It receives the hemiazygos veins, several esophageal, mediastinal, and pericardial veins, and, near its termination, the right bronchial vein. A few imperfect valves are found in the azygos vein; but its tributaries are provided with complete valves.
  The intercostal veins on the left side, below the upper three intercostal spaces, usually form two trunks, named the hemiazygos and accessory hemiazygos veins.
  The Hemiazygos Vein (v. hemiazygos; vena azygos minor inferior) begins in the left ascending lumbar or renal vein. It enters the thorax, through the left crus of the diaphragm, and, ascending on the left side of the vertebral column, as high as the ninth thoracic vertebra, passes across the column, behind the aorta, esophagus, and thoracic duct, to end in the azygos vein. It receives the lower four or five intercostal veins and the subcostal vein of the left side, and some esophageal and mediastinal veins.
  The Accessory Hemiazygos Vein (v. hemiazygos accessoria; vena azygos minor superior) descends on the left side of the vertebral column, and varies inversely in size with the highest left intercostal vein. It receives veins from the three or four intercostal spaces between the highest left intercostal vein and highest tributary of the hemiazygos; the left bronchial vein sometimes opens into it. It either crosses the body of the eighth thoracic vertebra to join the azygos vein or ends in the hemiazygos. When this vein is small, or altogether wanting, the left highest intercostal vein may extend as low as the fifth or sixth intercostal space.
  In obstruction of the superior vena cava, the azygos and hemiazygos veins are one of the principal means by which the venous circulation is carried on, connecting as they do the superior and inferior venæ cavæ, and communicating with the common iliac veins by the ascending lumbar veins and with many of the tributaries of the inferior vena cava.
  The Bronchial Veins (vv. bronchiales) return the blood from the larger bronchi, and from the structures at the roots of the lungs; that of the right side opens into the azygos vein, near its termination; that of the left side, into the highest left intercostal or the accessory hemiazygos vein. A considerable quantity of the blood which is carried to the lungs through the bronchial arteries is returned to the left side of the heart through the pulmonary veins.

The Veins of the Vertebral Column (Figs. 578, 579)
  The veins which drain the blood from the vertebral column, the neighboring muscles, and the meninges of the medulla spinalis form intricate plexuses extending


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