Subclavian Vein

Describe the anatomy relevant to central venous access (including femoral, internal jugular, external jugular, subclavian and peripheral veins)

The subclavian vein:

  • Is a continuation of the axillary vein as it crosses the upper surface of the first rib
  • Travels posterior to the clavicle, separated from the subclavian artery by the anterior scalene
  • Joins with the internal jugular vein to form the brachiocephalic vein


  • Anteriorly by the clavicle, subclavius muscle, and pectoralis major
  • Posteriorly by anterior scalene muscle and subclavian artery
  • Inferiorly by first rib and lung apex
  • Superiorly by skin, subcutaneous tissue, and platysma
  • Medially by the brachiocephalic vein
  • Laterally by the axillary vein

Surface Anatomy

The needle is placed in the deltopectoral groove, inferior and lateral to the middle third of the clavicle. The needle is inserted at a shallow angle, passing under the middle third of the clavicle aiming at the sternal notch.


  1. McMinn, RMH. Last's Anatomy: Regional and Applied. 9th Ed. Elsevier. 2003.
Last updated 2019-07-18

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