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What Is a Venous Plexus?

By Misty Wiser
Updated Feb 08, 2024
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A venous plexus is any collection of veins clustered together within the body. Many plexus locations are found in the human body, including vertebral, pterygoid, pampiniform, vesical, uterine, vaginal, uterovaginal, and rectal venous plexuses. Typically, the small veins in a venous plexus will eventually unite and form a single large vein.

Vertebral venous plexus (VVP) describes the grouping of vertebral veins that continue intertwined throughout the length of the entire spinal cord. One purpose of the VVP is to regulate the pressure within the cranium when a person changes position or moves. Additionally, deoxygenated blood is emptied from the cranium through this venous plexus.

Another group of veins known as the pterygoid plexus is located on both sides of the face near the jaw. Many veins come together to form this venous plexus, such as the buccinator, alveolar, masseteric, sphenoplalatine, pterygoid, and the middle meningeal vein. Eventually, all of the veins join and form the maxillary vein.

A cluster of veins near each one of a male’s testicles is called the pampiniform venous plexus. Several veins from the testes and the epididymis group together to form the plexus. These small veins later unite to form the testicular vein. One of the functions of this group of veins is to help regulate the temperature of the testicles through an exchange of blood with a nearby artery.

An additional venous plexus is only present in males. The vesical venous plexus is a group of veins in a man located near the upper part of the bladder neck and the prostate base. These veins empty into the internal iliac vein near the largest bone of the pelvis called the ilium.

Specific to a woman’s body are the uterine and vaginal plexuses, when these two plexuses are grouped together they are known as the uterovaginal plexus. The veins that make up the uterine plexus are located around the uterus. These veins empty blood into the uterine veins after first traveling through the internal iliac veins. The vaginal plexus is a grouping of veins located within the vaginal walls, and blood from the vaginal plexus travels through the internal pudenal veins into the internal iliac veins.

Both male and female bodies include a rectal or hemorrhoidal venus plexus. This cluster of veins travels around the circumference of the rectum and is composed of both internal and external sections. Circling the rectum, the internal rectal plexus continues until it reaches the anus. The external rectal plexus is located outside of the muscular layer of the rectum, and empties into inferior rectal veins, the middle rectal vein, and the superior rectal vein.

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