The Human Body

Vein

Vein, in anatomy, blood vessel that conducts the deoxygenated blood from the capillaries back to the heart. Three exceptions to this description exist: the pulmonary veins return blood from the lungs, where it has been oxygenated, to the heart; the portal veins receive blood from the pyloric, gastric, cystic, superior mesenteric, and splenic veins and, entering the liver, break up into small branches that pass through all parts of that organ; and the umbilical veins convey blood from the fetus to the mother's placenta. Veins enlarge as they proceed, gathering blood from their tributaries. They finally pour the blood through the superior and inferior venae cavae into the right atrium of the heart. Their coats are similar to those of the arteries, but thinner, and often transparent. See Circulatory System; Heart; Varicose Vein.