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Dorsal Venous Arch (Hand & Foot)


The dorsal venous arch lies at the distal portions of the metatarsal bones. There are medial and lateral marginal veins, which drain both of the dorsal and plantar aspects of the particular sides within the dorsal venous arch alongside the foot. It interacts along with proximally situated dorsal venous network and receives the dorsal digital as well as dorsal metatarsal veins.

Dorsal Venous Arch: Foot

Dorsal Venous Arch: Foot


Superficial venous drainage is primarily performed by the great (long) as well as small (short) saphenous veins. 10 dorsal digital veins originate through sides of the toes. Surrounding 8 veins merge at the web of the toes creating 4 dorsal metatarsal veins. They merge and create dorsal venous arch, being located opposite the middle of the dorsum of foot, which connects with the venous system at the dorsum of the foot as well as in front of the ankle.

This arch is drained as follows:

(i) Medial portion of dorsal venous arch receives dorsal digital vein via medial side of the great toe and is extended as medial marginal vein.

(ii) Lateral portion of dorsal venous arch gets dorsal digital vein through the lateral side of the little toe and is extended as lateral marginal vein.


  • Small saphenous vein: drains blood via the lateral dorsal venous arch along with posterior leg (calf) within the popliteal vein posterior towards the knee.
  • Great saphenous vein: drains blood via the medial dorsal venous arch, leg, as well as thigh within the femoral vein just inferior towards the inguinal ligament.


The arch helps in draining oxygen-depleted blood through the foot. Also, it gets blood via the dorsal metatarsal veins, which drains the foot’s metatarsal area and also drains the dorsal digital veins supplying the toes. From here, the arch drains its oxygen-depleted blood within the small as well as large saphenous veins. Consequently, the blood flows within numerous other vessels in the venous system as it goes upwards to the leg and back towards the lungs along with the heart. The dorsal venous arch of the foot works complimentary towards arteries in the area, similar to the arcuate artery of the foot, which is also referred to as the metatarsal artery.


The dorsal venous arch is a system of veins on the dorsum of hand. It provides uneven arrangement of veins generally with its transverse aspect, which is located 2-3 cm proximal towards the heads of metatarsals.

Dorsal Venous Arch: Hand

Dorsal Venous Arch: Hand


The tributaries of dorsal venous arch are:

  • Three dorsal metacarpal veins.
  • A dorsal digital vein – medial part of little finger.
  • A dorsal digital vein – lateral part of index finger.
  • Two dorsal digital veins of the thumb.
  • Veins draining palm of hand. These are:

    (a) Veins that circulate the margins of the hand.

    (b) Perforating veins which go dorsally via the interosseous spaces.

The dorsal venous arch drains within cephalic and basilic veins the efferent vessels of dorsal venous arch. The pressure on the palm at the time of grasping does not obstruct the venous circulation of the palm, but instead it facilitates the restoration because venous blood via the palm is drained inside dorsal venous arch.

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