Neck Appreciation Post Part V – The Jugular

The jugular vein is one that most people know or have heard of, you’ll quite often hear in television shows or read in crime thrillers that someone had their throat cut and it severed their jugular. Or you do hear the phrase ‘going for the jugular’ as a term for attacking at the weakest point. I believe it’s correct to say that major blood loss would be suffered from various arteries and veins in the neck if their throat were cut but mainly from the arteries which are under more pressure than the veins. Although it’s true you would lose more blood from the jugular than you would from a vein in other places of the body.

The jugular vein drains deoxygenated blood from the head and take it back to the superior vena cava. Typing that sentence at spooky season has got me wondering whether vampires would have a preference over oxygenated or deoxygenated blood. This then led to internet search and a visit to many websites of people discussing which blood types vampires might prefer. Sometimes the internet is a wonderful thing.

The things people Google can be quite concerning sometimes…

There are two pairs of jugular veins, the left and right of both internal and external in keeping with the symmetry of the neck structures I so adore. Therefore in total you actually have four jugular veins draining the blood from your head. They form an integral part of the venous system which all carries the deoxygenated blood back to the heart. One of the interesting aspects of the jugular veins is that the pressure in them can tell a lot about any issues in the heart and lungs.

The pressure within the veins themselves can increase, for example during physical activity or if you are put under a particular strain. This pressure will cause them to bulge to a point where they can be clearly visible externally and can also be seen to decrease in size quite clearly when the pressure is lessened. If someone has a very obvious bulging jugular vein for an extended period it is very worrying because it means the heart cannot keep up with the amount of blood being pumped back to it, and this means there is a problem with the heart such as pericarditis, or infection, for example. If the jugular veins are blocked this can also cause the blood pressure of the head to increase which can have damaging impacts.

There are natural cases where people can have more or less than the standard four jugular veins, often missing one or having an extra one. Sometimes draining may be concentrated on one side of the body naturally, or some kind of trauma or injury may have constricted one side causing the other to be favoured. This does not usually impact the draining of the blood from the head and they are quite good at adapting to reroute or using whatever veins are present.

Now you know a bit more about the jugular than most people, I hope this post was interesting. I will be continuing with these neck posts until I run out of structures I think are interesting, I could be doing these for some time to come!

MG x

Majority of this information was sourced from Wikipedia if not already known by myself. Image used is cropped from anatomyexpert.com

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