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Anatomy Atlases: Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus II: Cardiovascular System: Arteries: Head, Neck, and Thorax: Internal Carotid Artery

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus II: Cardiovascular System: Arteries: Head, Neck, and Thorax

Internal Carotid Artery

Ronald A. Bergman, PhD
Adel K. Afifi, MD, MS
Ryosuke Miyauchi, MD

Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed

The internal carotid rarely provides branches in the neck. However, the ascending pharyngeal, occipital, transverse facial, and lingual arteries, as well as a laryngeal and a meningeal artery, have all been reported to arise from the internal carotid prior to its entry into the carotid canal.

The internal carotid may take a sinuous course with a pronounced curve or a horseshoe shape, or may even form a complete loop in the upper cervical part of the vessel. This kinking of the artery may be due, however, to cardiovascular disease.

This artery is occasionaly absent uni- or bilaterally. In a review of carotid angiograms from 1407 patients, one case of bilateral agenesis of the internal carotid arteries was found (0.07%).

When absent, the internal carotid may be replaced by branches of the maxillary artery.

The carotid canal(s) may be absent.

The carotid artery may lie exposed within the middle ear cavity.

In one case, the internal carotid gave rise to a "vertebral" artery that entered the cranial cavity through the hypoglossal canal.

The internal carotid occasionally provides an aberrant vessel in the cavernous sinus, which passes posteriorly to anastomose with the basilar artery. There have also been reports of the internal carotid giving rise to the basilar artery.

The internal carotid may pass through a ring of bone formed by a spicule arising from the anterior clinoid process joining the middle clinoid process.

Unusual branches of the internal carotid include the ascending pharyngeal, occipital, transverse facial, accessory meningeal, central artery of the retina.

In a dissection study of 200 half-necks (or sides), the internal carotid ran dorsolateral to the external carotid in 38%, dorsal to the external carotid in 38.5%, and dorsomedial to the external carotid in 23.5% of cases.

Image 285, Image 289, Image 290, Image 436, Image 437

Absence of:

289, 290, 436

Central, of Retina

Image 298, Image 299, Image 300


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