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External carotid artery

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Last reviewed: 25.06.2018
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The external carotid artery (a.carotis externa) is one of the two terminal branches of the common carotid artery. It separates from the common carotid artery within the carotid triangle at the level of the upper edge of the thyroid cartilage. Initially, the external carotid artery is located medial to the internal carotid artery, and then lateral to it. To the initial part of the external carotid artery from the outside is the sternocleidomastoid muscle, in the region of the carotid triangle - the superficial plate of the cervical fascia and the subcutaneous muscle of the neck. Being inward from the sylvolus muscle and the back abdomen of the dorsal muscle, the external carotid artery at the level of the neck of the lower jaw (in the thickness of the parotid gland) is divided into its terminal branches - the superficial temporal and maxillary arteries. On its way, the external carotid artery gives off a series of branches that branch away from it in several directions. The anterior group of branches is the upper thyroid, lingual and facial arteries. The posterior group of branches includes the sternocleidomastoid, occipital and posterior ear arteries; the ascending pharyngeal artery is guided medially.

trusted-source[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13]

The anterior branches of the external carotid artery:

The upper thyroid artery (a.thyreoidea superior) departs from the outer carotid artery at its origin, at the level of the large horn of the sublingual bones, is directed forward and downward and divides into the anterior and posterior glandular branches (rr.glandulares anterior and posterior) at the upper pole of the thyroid gland . The anterior and posterior branches are distributed in the thyroid gland, anastomosing in the thickness of the gland with each other, as well as with the branches of the lower thyroid artery. On the way to the thyroid gland the following lateral branches leave the upper thyroid artery:

  1. the superior laryngeal artery (a.laryngea superior), along with the eponymous nerve, moves medially above the upper edge of the thyroid cartilage under the thyroid secretory muscle, perforates the thyroglossal membrane and blood supply to the muscles and mucous membrane of the larynx, epiglottis;
  2. the sub-lingual branch (r.infrahyoideus) goes to the hyoid bone and the muscles attached to this bone;
  3. sternocleidomastoid branch (r.sternocleidomastoideus) unstable, approaches the same muscle from the inside;
  4. the cross-branched branch (r.criocothyroideus) supplies the same muscle, anastomoses with the same artery of the other side.

The lingual artery (a.lingualis) branches off from the outer carotid artery slightly above the upper thyroid artery, at the level of the large horn of the hyoid bone. It goes below the sublingual-lingual muscle, between this muscle (laterally) and the middle constrictor of the pharynx (medially), passes into the area of the submandibular triangle. Then the artery enters the thickness of the tongue from below. On its way, the lingual artery gives off several branches:

  1. the sub-lingual branch (r.suprahyoideus) runs along the upper edge of the hyoid bone, blood supply this bone and the muscles adjacent to it;
  2. the dorsal branches of the tongue (rr.dorsales linguae) depart from the lingual artery under the sublingual-lingual muscle, go up;
  3. the sublingual artery (a.sublingualis) goes forward to the hyoid bone over the maxillofacial muscle, lateral to the duct of the sublingual salivary gland, blood supply to the mucous membrane of the bottom of the oral cavity and gums, the sublingual salivary gland, anastomoses with the chin artery.
  4. the deep artery of the tongue (a.profunda linguae) is large, is the terminal branch of the lingual artery, goes upward into the thickness of the tongue to its tip between the chinstrap muscle and the lower longitudinal muscle (tongue).

The facial artery (a.facialis) departs from the external carotid artery at the level of the angle of the lower jaw, 3-5 mm above the lingual artery. In the area of the submandibular triangle, the facial artery is attached to the submandibular jaw (or passes through it), giving it the glandular branches (rr.glandulares), then bends over the edge of the lower jaw to the face (in front of the masticatory muscle) and leaves up and forward, towards the angle of the mouth , and then to the medial angle of the eye.

The following branches leave the facial artery:

  1. the ascending palatine artery (a.palatina ascendens) from the initial part of the facial artery, goes up the side wall of the pharynx, penetrates between the typhoid and shillopharyngeal muscles (blood supply them). The terminal branches of the artery are directed to the palatine tonsil, the pharyngeal part of the auditory tube, the mucous membrane of the throat;
  2. the amygdala branch (r.tonsillaris) goes up the side wall of the pharynx to the palatine tonsil, the pharyngeal wall, the root of the tongue;
  3. The sub-chin artery (a.submentalis) follows the outer surface of the maxillofacial muscle to the chin and the neck muscles located above the hyoid bone.

On the face, in the corner of the mouth, go away:

  1. the lower labial artery (a.labialis inferior) and
  2. upper labial artery (a.labialis superior).

Both arteries go into the thickness of the lips, anastomose with the analogous arteries of the opposite side;

  1. angular artery (a.angularis) is the terminal branch of the facial artery, it goes up to the medial angle of the eye. Here she anastomoses with the dorsal artery of the nose - the branch of the eye artery (from the system of the internal carotid artery).

The posterior branches of the external carotid artery:

The occipital artery (a.occipitalis) departs from the external carotid artery almost at one level with the facial artery, is directed backwards, passes under the posterior abdomen of the digastric muscle, and then lies in the eponymous furrow of the temporal bone. Between the sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles goes to the posterior surface of the head where the occipital forehead branches into the occipital branches (rr.occipitales), which anastomose with the analogous arteries of the opposite side, as well as with the muscular branches of the vertebral artery and the deep cervical artery (from system of the subclavian artery).

From the occipital artery branch branches branch out:

  1. sternocleidomastoid branches (rr.sternocleidomastoidei) to the same muscle;
  2. an ear branch (r.auricularis), anastomosing with branches of the posterior ear artery; goes to the auricle;
  3. the mastoid branch (r.mastoideus) penetrates through the same hole to the hard shell of the brain;
  4. The descending branch (r.descendens) is sent to the muscles of the posterior region of the neck.

The posterior ear artery (a.auricularis posterior) departs from the outer carotid artery above the upper edge of the posterior abdomen of the digastric muscle and follows obliquely back. The following branches extend from the posterior ear artery:

  1. the ear branch (r.auricularis) goes on the back side of the auricle, which it blood supply;
  2. the occipital branch (r.occipitalis) goes posteriorly and upward along the base of the mastoid process; blood supply to the skin in the region of the mastoid process, the auricle and occiput;
  3. the stylomastoid artery (a.stylomastoidea) penetrates through the hole of the same name into the canal of the facial nerve of the temporal bone, where it gives the posterior tympanic artery (a.tympanica posterior), which passes through the canal of the drum string to the mucous membrane of the tympanic cavity, cells of the mastoid process (mastoid branches) to the stremmentary muscle (stremal branch). The terminal branches of the stylomastoid artery reach the hard shell of the brain.

Medial branches of the external carotid artery:

The ascending pharyngeal artery (a.pharyngea ascendens) departs from the inner semicircle of the external carotid artery at its beginning, rises up to the side wall of the pharynx. The following branches branch from the ascending pharyngeal artery:

  1. pharyngeal branches (rr.pharyngeales) are sent to the muscles of the pharynx, soft palate, palatine tonsil, auditory tube;
  2. the posterior meningeal artery (a.meningea posterior) follows the cavity of the skull through the jugular opening;
  3. the lower drum artery (a.tympanica inferior) penetrates through the lower opening of the tubule tubule into the tympanum to its mucosa.

The terminal branches of the external carotid artery:

The superficial temporal artery (a.temporalis superficialis) is a continuation of the trunk of the external carotid artery, runs upward in front of the auricle (under the skin on the fascia of the temporal muscle) into the temporal region. A zygomatic arc in a living person is sensed by the pulsation of this artery. At the level of the supraorbital margin of the frontal bone, the superficial temporal artery is divided into the frontal branch (r.frontalis) and the parietal branch (r.parietalis) feeding the supracranial muscle, the forehead and crown skin and anastomosing with the branches of the occipital artery. The superficial temporal artery gives off a number of branches:

  1. the branches of the parotid gland (rr.parotidei) go under the zygomatic arch in the upper part of the same salivary gland;
  2. the transverse facial artery (a.transversa faciei) goes alongside the excretory duct of the parotid gland (below the zygomatic arch) to the mimic muscles and the skin of the buccal and infraorbital regions;
  3. the front ear branches (rr.auriculares anteriores) go to the auricle and the external auditory canal where they are anastomosed with the branches of the posterior ear artery;
  4. Prokoflagic artery (a.zygomaticoorbitalis) leaves above the zygomatic arch to the lateral corner of the orbit, blood supply to the circular muscle of the eye;
  5. the middle temporal artery (a.temporalis media) perforates the fascia of the temporal muscle that this artery is supplying blood.

The maxillary artery (a.maxillaris) is also the terminal branch of the external carotid artery, but larger than the superficial temporal artery. The initial part of the artery is covered from the lateral side by the branch of the lower jaw. The artery reaches (at the level of the lateral pterygoid muscle) to the transverse and further to the pterygopalatine fossa, where it decomposes into its terminal branches. Accordingly, the topography of the maxillary artery in it is distinguished by three divisions: jaw, pterygoid and pterygo-palatine. From the maxillary artery within its jawbone, the following arteries depart:

  1. deep ear auricle (a.auricularis profunda) goes to the temporomandibular joint, external auditory canal and tympanic membrane;
  2. the anterior tympanum (a.tympanica anterior) through the stony-tympanic fissure of the temporal bone follows the mucosa of the tympanum;
  3. the lower alveolar artery (a.alveolaris inferior) is large, enters the canal of the lower jaw and gives the dental branches (rr.dentales) on its way. This artery leaves the canal through the chin aperture as the chin artery (a.mentalis), which branches in facial muscles and in the skin of the chin. Before entering the canal from the lower alveolar artery, a thin mandibular hyoid branch (r.mylohyoideus) branches into the same muscle and anterior abdomen of the digastric muscle;
  4. the middle meningeal artery (a.meningea media) is the largest of all arteries feeding the hard shell of the brain. This artery penetrates into the cavity of the skull through the spinous aperture of the large wing of the sphenoid bone, it gives there the upper drum artery (a.tympanica superior), which leaves through the muscle channel, pulling the eardrum, to the mucosa of the tympanic cavity, and also the frontal and parietal branches (r. Frontalis et parietalis) to the hard shell of the brain. Before the entrance to the spinous aperture from the middle meningeal artery, the additional branch (r.accessorius) departs, which at the beginning, before entering the cavity of the skull, supplies the pterygoid muscles and the auditory tube, and then, passing through the oval aperture into the skull, sends branches to the hard membrane of the head brain and to the trigeminal node.

Within the pterygoid section from the maxillary artery branch branches feeding the masticatory muscles depart:

  1. the chewing artery (a.masseterica) goes to the same muscle;
  2. the anterior and posterior deep temporal arteries (aa.temporales profundae anterior and posterior) go into the thickness of the temporal muscle;
  3. the wing-like branches (rr.pterygoidei) go to the same-named muscles;
  4. the buccal artery (a.buccalis) is sent to the buccal muscle and mucosa of the cheek;
  5. the posterior upper alveolar artery (a.alveolaris superior posterior) penetrates the upper maxillary sinus through the holes of the same name in the upper jawbone and blood supply to its mucous membrane, and its dental branches (rr.dentales) - the teeth and gums of the upper jaw.

From the third - pterygo-palatine section of the maxillary artery three terminal branches branch out:

  1. the infraorbital artery (a.infraorbitalis) passes into the orbit through the lower eye gap, where it gives branches to the lower line and oblique muscles of the eye. Then, through the infraorbital foramen, this artery emerges through the eponymous canal on the face and blood supply to facial muscles located in the thickness of the upper lip, in the region of the nose and lower eyelid, and covering their skin. Here the infraorbital artery is anastomosing with the branches of the facial and superficial temporal arteries. In the infraorbital canal, the anterior upper alveolar arteries (aa.alveolares superiores anteriores) that extend the dental branches (rr.dentales) to the teeth of the upper jaw exit from the infraorbital artery;
  2. descending palatal artery (a.palatina descendens), giving at first the artery of the canopy canal (a.canalis pterygoidei) to the upper part of the pharynx and the auditory tube and passing through a small palatal canal, blood supplying the hard and soft palate through the large and small palatine arteries (aa.palatinae major et minores); gives a wedge-palatal artery (a.sphenopalatma), which passes through the same hole in the nasal cavity, and lateral posterior nasal arteries (aa.nasales posteriores laterales) and posterior septa branches (rr.septales posteriores) to the mucous membrane of the nose.

It is important to know!

CT angiographic images need to be analyzed in different MIP projections (maximum intensity projections), MPR (multiplanar reconstruction), or 3D VRT reconstruction (volumetric imaging method). Read more..

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