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Superficial blood vessels of the head

Superficial arteries and veins of the head and scalp.

Show transcript

Hello, everyone! This is Joao from Kenhub, and welcome to another anatomy tutorial where, this time, I’m going to be talking about the superficial blood vessels of the head.

So what I’m going to be doing on this tutorial specifically is looking at some image of your head on an anterior view, as you can now see on the screen, and describe all these blood vessels that you can see here. Now, these are superficial arteries and veins that you find on your head.

So, like I just mentioned, we’re going to be covering the different superficial arteries and also veins that we find on the head. And without further ado, let’s start by talking about the different arteries, the superficial arteries of your head.

And before we go into a little bit more detail on these structures, I would like to list them so you have an idea of what we’re going to be covering on this tutorial.

So we’re going to be talking about the facial, the submental, the inferior and superior labial arteries. We’re also going to be covering the mental branch of the inferior alveolar artery and the angular artery.

We’re going to, then, talk about the posterior auricular, the buccal, the superficial temporal, the middle temporal, and the zygomatico-orbital arteries.

We’re also going to go into the transverse facial artery and then move on into, then, the infraorbital, the occipital, the supraorbital, and the supratrochlear arteries.

And let’s start off with the very first one that you see here, highlighted in green, and right now, we’re looking at a lateral, a left lateral view of the head.

And as you can see, we just stripped some of the structures of the head to be left with a few muscles and some of the blood vessels that we’re going to be talking about, and we just highlighted then the facial artery.

And the facial artery is a branch of the external carotid artery that will be supplying structures on the superficial face.

The facial artery gives off numerous branches around the face and delivers oxygenated blood to the regions that it will be supplying.

Now, the branches of the facial artery that are relevant for this topic we’re discussing, facial artery has what is known to be as cervical branches, which we will be covering here on this tutorial, and those that we’re going to be covering are known as the submental arteries.

We’re also going to be seeing some facial branches of the facial artery that we’re going to be also covering here on this tutorial, and these are known as the inferior labial artery, the superior labial artery, and the angular artery.

Let’s start off with the very first one here, this that we’re highlighting now, coming out of the facial artery, as you can see here. So now, what we’re doing is we’re still looking at the anterior view of the head and a bit of the neck. You see here the facial artery going up, and then these branches here that are highlighted in green, which are known as the submental arteries.

So as I mentioned, the submental artery is a branch of the facial artery. Notice here that I just moved on to this image of the anterior view where you can still see here the submental arteries being highlighted in green.

Now, the submental arteries will be running within the chin. They are the largest of the cervical branches of the facial artery.

The submental artery will be supplying the surrounding muscles and area of the skin in the submental area. So the submental area is the lower portion of your chin.

The next artery that we saw on that list that you now see, or two arteries that you see, now highlighted in green, one on each side, they’re known as the inferior labial arteries. These are also branches of the facial artery, and they arise near the angle of the mouth, as you can see here.

Now, this is the angle of the mouth, and you notice here how they arise just on the facial artery.

The inferior labial artery will be anastomosing with the artery on the opposite side, as you can see here. Both of the inferior labial arteries will be anastomosing or connecting here.

And they will also be anastomosing with the mental branch of the inferior alveolar artery. And you can see the mental branch of the inferior alveolar artery right about here on each side of your chin, and you notice how, on this image here, how they are also anastomosing with the inferior labial artery.

Now, the inferior labial artery, now we’re looking at a left lateral view of your head, and you still see the inferior labial artery highlighted in green to say that this artery or these arteries will be supplying the labial glands, the mucous membrane, and muscles of the lower lip.

Now, we’re moving on to, again, turning the head to the anterior view to highlight these two branches. These are, then, the mental branches of the inferior alveolar artery, which we talked about before.

And as I also mentioned before, these will be anastomosing with the submental and the inferior labial arteries.

Now, the mental branch of the inferior alveolar artery is going to be supplying the chin, and you can also see it here, highlighted in green, from a left lateral view of the head.

The next arteries that we’re going to be highlighting, that you see here highlighted in green, now, you notice that we’re going a bit further up, so these will be, then, the superior labial arteries. And these are larger than the inferior labial arteries, and they follow a similar course along the edge of the upper lip and will be anastomosing with the artery of the opposite side, and you can clearly see here on this image how these two arteries, superior labial arteries, are then anastomosing here.

Now, the superior labial arteries will be supplying several structures: the upper lip, the nasal septum, and the ala of the nose of the wing of the nose.

Now, this artery will be supplying the upper lip, as I mentioned, and will be giving off, in its course, two vessels which ascend to your nose, a septal branch which will ramify on the nasal septum, as far as the point of the nose or the tip of your nose, and an alar branch which will be supplying the wing or the ala of the nose.

The next arteries that we’re going to be talking about are known as the angular artery (singular), angular arteries (plural) because you have one on each side of your nose.

I also mentioned before that the angular artery is a terminal branch of or terminal part of the facial artery. It ascends to the medial angle of the bony orbit and then followed also or accompanied by the angular vein.

On your cheek, this blood vessel is going to distribute branches that will be anastomosing with the infraorbital artery.

Now, the angular artery will be supplying the lacrimal sac and also will be anastomosing with the dorsal nasal branch of the ophthalmic artery, as you can see here.

Next artery that we’re going to be talking about, or the arteries because you have one on each side, you see, now, highlighted in green, these are known as the posterior auricular artery. This one is a small artery that arises from the external carotid artery.

It will be supplying blood to the scalp posterior to your ear and also to the actual… it will be supplying the actual ear.

The next artery that we’re going to be highlighting here, that you see highlighted in green, notice here coming out o the maxillary artery, this one is known as the buccal artery.

This one is a small artery in the head that branches off of the maxillary artery, as I mentioned, and it will be anastomosing with branches of the facial artery and with the infraorbital artery.

In terms of blood supply, this one will be supplying your cheek and also the buccinator muscle that gives the actual name to the artery.

Next in line will be this that were highlighted, this blood vessel that we’re highlighting right now. This is known as the superficial temporal artery, and you have two as well, one on each side of your head.

And the superficial temporal artery is a major artery of the head, will be arising from the external carotid artery when it bifurcates into the superficial temporal artery and also the maxillary artery.

This blood vessel begins around the mandible and the parotid gland, as you can see here. This is the parotid gland.

The superficial temporal artery is going to be anastomosing with several arteries, including the supraorbital artery, which you can see a part of the supraorbital artery right here.

Now, the superficial temporal artery is going to be supplying the skin of the temple region as well, of the parotid gland, and the actual parotid gland will be supplied by the superficial temporal artery.

The next ones that we’re going to be highlighting, now, we’re looking at them from an anterior view. You notice here these branches, these green branches—or they’re highlighted in green—which are known as the middle temporal arteries.

Now, these blood vessels are a branch of the superficial temporal artery. They anastomose with the deep temporal branches of the internal maxillary.

And if you notice here on this image of the lateral side, you notice that the middle temporal artery is branching out of the superficial temporal artery. And also notice that this branch or this artery is going to be branching out right above this arch here, which is known as the zygomatic arch.

Now, the middle temporal arteries are going to be supplying the temple region.

We’re going to move on to the next arteries that you see here, highlighted in green. These are known as the zygomatico-orbital arteries.

These are branches of the middle temporal arteries.

They anastomose with the lacrimal and palpebral branches of the ophthalmic artery.

The zygomatico-orbital artery will be supplying one muscle which is known as the orbicularis oculi muscle, which you see here on this image. So this is the orbicularis oculi muscle.

The next ones that we’re going to be highlighting, they are also a pair. They are the transverse facial arteries.

And singularly, the transverse facial artery is an artery that also branches from the superficial temporal artery and runs across your face.

This one will be anastomosing with the facial artery, the masseteric artery, the buccinator artery, and the infraorbital artery.

The transverse facial artery is going to be divided into numerous branches which will supply the parotid gland, the parotid duct, the masseter muscle, and also the skin.

We’re going to move on to the next arteries that you see here, highlighted in green. These are known as the infraorbital arteries, and you have one on each side.

And this one will be branching off of the maxillary artery, emerging through the infraorbital foramen, which you see here. So this is the infraorbital foramen, just under the orbit.

Now, the infraorbital artery is going to be giving off orbital branches which supply the rectus inferior, and inferior oblique muscles, and also the lacrimal sac.

The infraorbital artery is going to also be giving off what is known to be as anterior superior alveolar arteries, which supply the upper incisor, and canine teeth, and the mucous membrane of the maxillary sinus.

We’re going to go a bit further back to highlight this artery now, on the screen, which is known as the occipital artery. And this one arises from the external carotid artery, just opposite to the facial artery, will be anastomising with the posterior auricular and the superficial temporal arteries.

The occipital artery will be supplying blood to the back of the scalp, and sternocleidomastoid muscles, and also deep muscles in the back and your neck.

The next one that we’re going to talk about and highlight now, we mentioned it briefly before. This one is the supraorbital artery.

Now, the supraorbital artery, as you can see here on this image, is going to come out of the ophthalmic artery and will form anastomosis with the branches of the supratrochlear artery (which is this one here) and the superficial temporal arteries that we talked about before, as you can see here as well.

Now, the supraorbital arteries will be supplying several structures, including the elevating muscles of the upper eyelid, the actual upper eyelid, the diploe of the frontal bone, the frontal sinus, and the skin of the forehead and scalp.

One fun fact about this artery is that it may be absent in 10% to 20% of individuals (something interesting for you to write down in your notes).

A bit more medially, were going to find these arteries that we’re now highlighting in green, which are known as the supratrochlear arteries. These are terminal branches of the ophthalmic artery. They form anastomosis with the supraorbital artery and with the artery of the opposite side.

These arteries will be, then, traveling up your forehead and then supplying the skin in this area, some of the muscles here, and also the pericranium.

This is the last artery that we’re going to be covering here on this tutorial, and we’re ready now to move on to the different veins. And before we talk about them, I would like to list the structures.

We’re going to be talking about the supraorbital, the supratrochlear, angular, deep facial, inferior labial, and superior labial veins. As you can see, they have similar names to the arteries that we talked about because they have similar courses.

We’re also going to be talking about the facial vein, the transverse facial, superficial temporal, middle temporal, and posterior auricular.

Let’s start with the very first one that you see now, highlighted in green, and if you remember from the location of the arteries, this will be, then, the supraorbital veins.

And the supraorbital veins are found on the forehead where it communicates with the frontal branch of the superficial temporal vein, which you can also see here the superficial temporal veins.

Now, these will be collecting blood from the forehead, eyebrow, and upper eyelid and then draining into the angular vein—this vein that you see here.

The next ones that we’re going to find a bit more medially, like we saw with the arteries, these are, then, the supratrochlear veins.

These veins will begin on the forehead, in a venous plexus which communicates with the frontal branches of the superficial temporal vein.

These veins will, then, be joined by a transverse branch at the root of your nose, which is known as the nasal arch. And these veins receive blood from small veins from the dorsum of the nose.

At the root of the nose, the veins will be diverging, and each, at the medial angle of the orbit, will then join the supraorbital vein and then draining into the angular vein. And you can clearly see here what is happening.

The next one that we talked about briefly, now that we’re highlighting two on each side of your nose, these are known as the angular veins. These are small veins that you find near your eyes, and they receive blood from the veins of the ala or the wing of the nose and the supraorbital veins.

The angular vein runs obliquely downward on the side of the root of the nose to the level of the lower margin of the eye socket where it drains blood into the facial vein.

And the facial vein, we’re going to be talking about next, but this is the facial vein, as you can see here on the image.

One important point that I would like to make here is that the angular vein is going to establish an important anastomosis between the facial vein and the cavernous sinus.

Next, we’re going to be talking about these highlights that you see here, these highlighted veins. These are known as the deep facial veins, which are valveless communicating veins between the pterygoid venous plexus and the facial vein.

They will be draining blood into the actual facial vein, as you can see here.

You notice, especially here on the left side of the subject (keep that in mind), and notice here that the deep facial vein is, then, draining into the facial vein.

The next ones are going to be, then, these that you see here, highlighted below the lip. Then, we call it the inferior labial veins. And these receive blood from the lower lip and then drain it into the facial vein.

A bit further up, we’re going to be highlighting these, which are, then, known as the superior labial veins. And similarly to the inferior labial vein, the superior one will be receiving blood from the upper lip this time and then draining it into the facial vein as well.

And you can clearly see here on this image how it’s connected to the facial vein. So it’s going to bring deoxygenated blood from the upper lip all the way back the facial vein, where it then continues on to a course back to the heart.

The next ones that we’re going to talk about, I already mentioned them several times throughout this tutorial. These are the facial veins.

Now, these are relatively large veins on your face, and they start at the side of the root of the nose, as you can see here. They’re a direct continuation of this one that we talked about before, the angular vein, where it also receives a small nasal branch.

Now, the facial vein will lie behind the facial artery, if you remember well, and receives blood from the external palatine veins and either forms the common facial vein or will be, then, draining directly into the internal jugular vein.

The next veins that we’re going to be talking about, seen here highlighted in green now, are known as the transverse facial veins, which connect to, then, the superficial temporal vein. And these veins will be anastomosing with the facial vein, and as you can see here on the image on the lateral side, you see clearly here the highlighted transverse facial vein, then connecting to the superficial temporal vein.

Now, these will then collect blood from the temple area and then drain it into the superficial temporal vein, as we just saw on this image.

And since we’re on this topic, let’s continue on to these that you see now highlighted in green from an anterior view. These are, then, the superficial temporal veins. These are found on the sides of your head.

And the superficial temporal vein receives, in its courses, the following veins: the parotid veins, the articular veins from the temporomandibular joint, the anterior auricular veins, and the transverse facial vein.

The superficial temporal vein will then be draining into the retromandibular vein.

The next one that we’re going to be highlighting here in green, these are known as the middle temporal veins, which you have one on each side of your head. And they arise near the eye and receive blood from the orbital vein. These veins will then be joining the superficial temporal veins and then drain collectively into the retromandibular vein.

Last blood vessel for this tutorial that you see now highlighted in green, these are known as the posterior auricular veins. And the posterior auricular veins begin at the side of your head and in a plexus which communicates with the tributaries of the occipital vein and the superficial temporal veins.

This one will be receiving blood from the stylomastoid vein and some tributaries from the cranial surface of the auricula or your ear.

It joins the posterior division of the posterior facial vein and then drains into the external jugular.

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