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Ascending pharyngeal artery: want to learn more about it?

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Ascending pharyngeal artery

The ascending pharyngeal artery is a branch of the external carotid artery located in the neck on either side of the pharynx. It is the smallest and the only medial branch of the external carotid artery.

The ascending pharyngeal artery gives off three branches that contribute to the blood supply of the pharynx, prevertebral muscles, middle ear and dura mater. Namely, they are the pharyngeal, inferior tympanic and meningeal branches.

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the ascending pharyngeal artery.

Key facts about the ascending pharyngeal artery
Origin External carotid artery
Branches Pharyngeal branches, inferior tympanic artery, posterior meningeal artery
Supply Pharyngeal constrictors, stylopharyngeus, soft palate, palatine tonsil, pharyngotympanic (Eustachian) tube, medial wall of tympanic cavity, dura mater, hypoglossal, glossopharyngeal, vagus nerves.

Orgin and course

The ascending pharyngeal artery originates from the medial (deep) side of the external carotid artery as the first or second branch of that vessel. It then takes a superior course between the internal carotid artery and pharynx.

The anterior aspect of the artery is crossed by the styloglossus and stylopharyngeus muscles, while the posterior side is just anterior to the longus capitis muscle. The artery ends by anastomosing with the ascending palatine branch of facial artery and the ascending cervical branch of vertebral artery.

Branches and supply

Along its course, the ascending pharyngeal artery gives off three sets of branches to supply the surrounding structures; pharyngeal, inferior tympanic and meningeal branches.

One of the meningeal branches reaches the cerebellar fossa through the jugular foramen. It is called the posterior meningeal artery and it is considered as the terminal branch of the ascending pharyngeal artery.

Anatomical variations

There are several noteworthy anatomical variations related to the origin of the ascending pharyngeal artery. Besides from the external carotid, this artery can originate from the occipital, common carotid, internal carotid or facial arteries.

Ascending pharyngeal artery: want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References:

  • Moore, K. L., Dalley, A. F., & Agur, A. M. R. (2014). Clinically Oriented Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Netter, F. (2019). Atlas of Human Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.
  • Standring, S. (2016). Gray's Anatomy (41tst ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
  • Tubbs, R. S., Shoja, M. M., Loukas, M., & Bergman, R. A. (2016). Bergman’s comprehensive encyclopedia of human anatomic variation. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell.

Illustrators:

  • Ascending pharyngeal artery (Arteria pharyngea ascendens) - Yousun Koh
  • Posterior meningeal branch of ascending pharyngeal artery - Paul Kim
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