August 1, 2012

Superficial Femoral Vein: Misleading Medical Nomenclature

Anatomy and Definition of Superficial Femoral Vein (SFV)
  • SFV, as understood by vascular surgeons and radiologists, is a continuation of the popliteal vein. After joining the deep femoral vein, it becomes common femoral vein
  • Superficial femoral vein is actually a "deep" vein
The Problem
  • Most vascular surgeons and radiologists understand that SFV is a deep vein, but many physicians in other specialty or general practitioners do not
  • Based on a survey of multispecialty groups, only 24% of physicians would give anticoagulants to patients having "acute thrombosis of the superficial femoral vein". There is a misperception of many physicians that SFV is superficial vein, therefore it would not be treated as deep vein thrombosis
Recommendations: Don't Use "Superficial Femoral Vein". Use "Femoral Vein"
  • Current consensus developed by experts in phlebology officially established “femoral vein” as the vein that originates from the popliteal vein and courses in the femoral canal and bluntly discarded “superficial femoral vein” as an “unauthorized term" … because it is a deep vein 
  • SFV is not in the official Terminologica Anatomica
  • The other vein is "deep femoral vein" or "profunda femoris vein"
  • Supported by International Interdisciplinary Consensus Committee on Venous Anatomical Terminology convened on September 8–9, 2001 (Nomenclature of the veins of the lower limbs: an international interdisciplinary consensus statement. J Vasc Surg 2002; 36:416-422)
  •  Supported by Society of Interventional Radiology

Hammond I. The superficial femoral vein. Radiology 2003;229;604-666 (link)

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