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External carotid artery

Other Terms: Arteria carotis externa, Artère carotide externe


The external carotid artery supplies the tissues on the outside of the cranium. It is the smaller of the two terminal divisions of the common carotid artery. It arises opposite the upper border of the thyroid cartilage. It ascends and enters the parotid gland, where it lies beneath the temporomaxillary vein and facial nerve. Opposite the neck of the lower jaw, it divides into its two terminal branches, the temporal and internal maxillary arteries. At first, it lies to the inner side of the internal carotid artery, but later becomes superficial to it. It is covered by the skin, superficial fascia, platysma, myoid muscle, superficial layer of the deep cervical fascia, anterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, and a portion of the parotid gland, the temporomaxillary vein, and the facial nerve. It is crossed by the hypoglossal nerve, the facial and lingual veins, the posterior belly of the digastric muscle, the stylohyoid muscle, and enters the parotid gland. Along the inner side of the vessel are the wall of the pharynx, the hyoid bone, the ramus of the lower jaw, and the stylomaxillary ligament from which it is separated by a portion of the parotid gland. Beneath it is the superior laryngeal nerve higher in the neck the styloglossus and stylopharyngeaus muscles, the stylohyoid ligament, the glossopharyngeal nerve, the pharyngeal branch of the pneumogastric nerve, and part of the parotid gland separate it from the internal carotid artery. The internal carotid artery is on its outer side at its origin. The external carotid artery differs from most of the arteries because it does not have an accompanying vein. However, sometimes a vein formed by the union of the temporal and internal maxillary veins does accompany it. The branches of the external carotid artery are the superior thyroid, lingual, facial, occipital, posterior auricular, ascending pharyngeal, superficial temporal, and internal maxillary arteries. They may be divided into four sets: an anterior, a posterior, an ascending, and a terminal. The anterior set comprises the superior thyroid, lingual, and facial. The posterior has the occipital and posterior auricular. The ascending is the ascending pharyngeal. The terminal includes the superficial temporal and internal maxillary arteries.


Arteria carotis externa


Artère carotide externe


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