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In this lesson, we will explore what the term antecubital fossa means as well as where it is located and why this little nook of the human body has this particular name.

What Is a Fossa?

The best place to start exploring the antecubital fossa is by looking at the term itself. So what is a fossa anyway? Well, the term fossa comes from the Latin term for a ditch or a trench. Now, I realize it might seem pretty strange to have an anatomical term for a ditch or a trench, but, when you think about it, both a ditch and a trench are really just terms for a shallow depression, which is what a doctor or a scientist means when they refer to something as a fossa; it’s a shallow depression.

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Okay, so now we know what a fossa is. What does antecubital mean? Well, to understand this, we really need to explore the ‘where’ rather than the ‘what’ of this anatomical term.

Where Is the Antecubital Fossa?

Okay, so where is the antecubital fossa? Well, funny enough, the answer to that question is actually in the name itself.

The antecubital fossa is the shallow depression located before or, in other words, in front of, the median cubital vein of your arm.

antecubital_fossa

The term makes so much more sense when you decode its meaning, right?Now you may be saying to yourself, Okay, so then where is the median cubital vein? Well, it’s the vein that pops out of the inside of your elbow when you make a fist.

It joins the two longest vessels running up the length of your arm called the cephalic vein and the basilic vein. The basilic and cephalic veins are, like the median cubital vein, also superficial veins whose purpose is to drain the deoxygenated blood from your hands and arms back towards your heart. These two veins are actually located in opposition to one another, meaning that, while the basilic vein runs up the underside of your forearm and along the underside of your arm, the cephalic vein runs up the top of your forearm and the outer side of your arm.

Why Is This Location Even Named?

So why does this location even have a name? I’m sure it might seem like some scientist went crazy trying to name every nook and cranny of the human body with this one, but there is actually a very good reason why this particular nook has a name: it’s a main point of access for venipuncture.

Venipuncture, or the act of puncturing a vein, can either take the form of intravenous therapy, meaning the administration of medication through a vein, or the drawing of blood out of a patient.

Lesson Summary

The antecubital fossa is the shallow depression located in front of the median cubital vein of your arm. The median cubital vein joins the two longest vessels that run up the length of your arm, called the cephalic vein and the basilic vein. Furthermore, the antecubital fossa is a main point of access for venipuncture, which could refer to either drawing blood or intravenous therapy, which is the administration of medication through a vein.

Learning Outcomes

As this lesson concludes, find out whether your knowledge helps you to:

  • Define the terms ‘fossa’ and ‘antecubital fossa’
  • Determine the proximity of the median cubital vein to the antecubital fossa
  • Recognize the importance of the antecutibal fossa for venipuncture

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