renal vein

The renal veins are asymmetric paired veins that drain the kidneys.

Gross anatomy

Course

The renal vein is formed by the union of two-to-three renal parenchymal veins in the renal sinus. It emerges from the renal hilum anterior to the renal artery and drains into the inferior vena cava at the level of L2.

The left renal vein is much longer, at 6-7 cm, than the right renal vein, at 3-4 cm, but they have a similar caliber (~1.2 cm). The left renal vein courses anteriorly to the abdominal aorta.

Tributaries
Left renal vein
  • left gonadal vein
  • left inferior phrenic vein
  • left adrenal vein
  • small branches from kidney capsule, proximal ureter and renal pelvis
Right renal vein
  • small branches from kidney capsule, proximal ureter and renal pelvis

Variant anatomy

See article: renal vein anomalies.

Related pathology