Anomalous azygos veins - its embryological basis and clinical significance

Uma Shivanal, Geethanjali HT


Background: The anatomical knowledge of the variability of the azygos venous system is important for the surgical interventions of the posterior mediastinum and also during radiological investigations/diagnosis especially CT and MRI. The variant azygos venous system might be confused with thoracic aorta aneurysms, lymphadenopathy and tumours of posterior mediastinum.

Methods: The present study was undertaken on 10 embalmed adult human cadavers irrespective of sex, used for undergraduate dissection from the Department of Anatomy, Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences, Mandya. In this present study, formation, course and termination pattern of azygos system of veins was observed in 10 dissected human cadavers. Out of which 2 cadavers showed different types of variations.

Results: In the present study, normal azygos venous system was found in 8 specimens accounting for 80%. Variations were found in 2 specimens (20%); one specimen presented with connection between accessory hemiazygos vein and hemiazygos vein, 3 transverse channels across vertebral column and the other specimen showed absence of accessory hemiazygos vein and shifting of azygos vein towards midline.

Conclusions: Accurate knowledge about these kinds of variations is very important to identify, especially in the computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging of mediastinum. The abnormal azygos venous system may easily be confused with aneurysm, lymphadenopathy and other abnormalities like tumor. It is important to keep these kinds of variations in mind while performing the mediastinal operations or surgery of large vessels.  



Azygos vein, Hemiazygos vein, Accessory azygos vein

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