Variation of the jugular veins and its clinical implications

Former MSc Human Anatomy students Eleni Patera, Montserrat Rayman Silva, Zhenyu Chen, Qiudian Wang and their supervisor Abduelmenem Alashkham have presented their work at the British Association of Clinical Anatomists conference in which radical neck dissection in treatment of cervical lymph node tumor involves resection of the internal jugular veins.

Therefore, anatomical variations of the jugular veins are important to report. During routine dissection by postgraduate students at the University of Edinburgh, variations of the jugular veins were observed in a 58-year-old female cadaver. The right external jugular vein communicated with the right internal jugular vein via a communicating branch which is located approximately at the superior border of the cricoid cartilage. Knowledge of the variation of the jugular veins is important in cases of bilateral resection of the jugular veins in treatment of cervical lymph node tumor, either in a single or double stage approach. This would affect on the cerebral outflow and increases the intracranial pressure. Therefore, as a consequent to the physiological changes, hypertension, ophthalmoplegia, blindness, facial and laryngeal edema associated with respiratory distress and stroke could occur.