ORIGIN: Common carotid artery.

COURSE/DISTRIBUTION: This artery is a terminal branch of the common carotid artery on both sides (right and left) and it leads off from the parent trunk at the upper border of the thyroid cartilage. It initially presents with a dilatation called the aortic sinus. It ascends anterior to the transverse process of the upper 3 cervical vertebrae to reach the carotid canal in the petrous part of the temporal bone. It snubs the foramen lacerum that is placed superior to it and enters the carotid canal to emerge at the cranial cavity where it passes through the cavernous sinus. In this part, it lies in the carotid groove placed within the body of the sphenoid. It makes a sudden upward turn almost at right angle above the clinoid process and below the anterior perforated substance and finally splits into its terminal branches the anterior and middle cerebral arteries. It is therefore divided into thee following parts

         Cervical part which has no branches

         Petrous part within the carotid canal in the petrous temporal bone,

         Cavernous part within the cavernous sinus of the middle cranial fossa

         Cerebral part. Here it divides into its terminal branches.


Cervical part

No branches

Petrous part

  • Caroticotympanic artery
  • Pteryoid   branch

Cavernous part

  • Cavernous branches
  • Hypophysial branches
  • Meningeal branch

Cerebral part

  • Ophthalmic artery
  • Anterior cerebral artery
  • Middle cerebral artery
  • Posterior communicating artery
  • Anterior choroid artery.


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