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Main arteries of the head and neck

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

1. Identify the main arterial sources for the head and neck
2. Learn the main branches of those arteries and which areas they supply.

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The head and neck derive their blood supply from two paired arteries and their branches: the common carotid artery and the subclavian artery. The common carotid arteries bifurcate into two important vessels:

  • External carotid artery, that gives off branches to supply the external structures of the head and face (viscerocranium).
  • Internal carotid artery, that enters the neurocranium and is one of the two main vessels that supply the brain.

The neck is mainly supplied by the branches of the subclavian artery. Moreover, the subclavian artery gives rise to the paired vertebral arteries, which not only provide blood supply to the upper part of the spinal cord, but more importantly, fuse to form the basilar artery - the second main vessel that supplies the brain.

This video tutorial will help you to learn the anatomy, pathway and the areas supplied by the main arteries of the head and neck.

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Review the images in our gallery to solidify your knowledge about the main arteries supplying the head and neck.


Key points about the main arteries of the head and neck
Arteries that supply head and neck Common carotid artery: External carotid artery, internal carotid artery
Subclavian artery
External carotid artery Branches: Superior thyroid artery, ascending pharyngeal artery, lingual artery, facial artery, occipital artery, posterior auricular artery, superficial temporal artery, transverse facial artery, zygomatico-orbital artery, maxillary artery, infraorbital artery
External structures of the head and face
Internal carotid artery Branches: Superior hypophyseal artery, inferior hypophyseal artery, ophthalmic artery, anterior choroidal artery, supratrochlear artery, anterior cerebral artery, middle cerebral artery, supraorbital artery
Blood supply to the brain via the circle of Willis
Subclavian artery Branches: Vertebral artery, thyrocervical trunk, inferior thyroid artery, suprascapular artery, transverse cervical artery, costocervical trunk, deep cervical artery
Structures of the neck; brain via basilar artery and circle of Willis

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