External jugular vein

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 15 Sep 2021

The external jugular vein (EJV) drains the head, face and part of the scapular region.

Gross anatomy


The posterior division of the retromandibular vein and posterior auricular vein unite within the parotid gland to form the external jugular vein, at the angle of the mandible.


It courses inferiorly in the subcutaneous anterolateral neck, deep to platysma but superficial to sternocleidomastoid, before piercing the deep cervical fascia (usually) posterior to the clavicular head of the sternocleidomastoid. Here it drains directly into the subclavian vein.


A handy mnemonic to recall these is PAST.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: head and neck veins
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  • Figure 2: venous development (Gray's illustrations)
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