Definition of vena cava in US English:

vena cava


  • A large vein carrying deoxygenated blood into the heart. There are two in humans, the inferior vena cava (carrying blood from the lower body) and the superior vena cava (carrying blood from the head, arms, and upper body).

    • ‘Such a clot will move to the heart along the main vein of the body, the inferior vena cava.’
    • ‘Oxygenated blood flows through the arterial system to the organs, and deoxygenated blood returns to the right atrium through the superior and inferior vena cava.’
    • ‘The liver lesion, 4 cm in diameter, was deemed unresectable at that time as it was too close to the vena cava.’
    • ‘The tumor abutted the inferior vena cava; however, it was removed without the tumor or vena cava being violated.’
    • ‘The right superior vena cava is also draining into the left atrium as well as the pulmonary veins.’


Late 16th century: from Latin, literally ‘hollow vein’.