It is posterior to the abdominal cavity and runs alongside of the vertebral column on its right side (i.e. it is a retroperitoneal structure). It enters the right atrium at the lower right, back side of the heart.
The caval opening is at T8. The specific levels of the branches are as follows:
|inferior phrenic vein||T8|
|common iliac vein||L5|
Because the IVC is not centrally located, there are some asymmetries in drainage patterns. The gonadal veins and suprarenal veins drain into the IVC on the right side, but into the renal vein on the left side, which in turn drains into the IVC. By contrast, all the lumbar veins and hepatic veins usually drain directly into the IVC.
Note that the vein that carries de-oxygenated blood from the upper half of the body is the superior vena cava.
Occlusion of the IVC is rare, but considered life-threatening and is an emergency. It is associated with deep vein thrombosis, IVC filters, liver transplantation and instrumentation (e.g. catheter in the femoral vein).
The use of natural veno-venous bypass during surgical treatment of renal cell carcinoma with inferior vena cava thrombus
May 01, 2002; Renal cell carcinoma associated with inferior vena cava thrombus complicates radical nephrectomy. Various approaches have been...