intermediate temporal artery

Superficial temporal artery

In human anatomy, the superficial temporal artery is a major artery of the head. It arises from the external carotid artery when it bifurcates into the superficial temporal artery and maxillary artery.

Its pulse is palpable superior to the zygomatic arch, anterior and superior to the tragus.


The superficial temporal artery, the smaller of the two terminal branches of the external carotid, appears, from its direction, to be the continuation of that vessel.

It begins in the substance of the parotid gland, behind the neck of the mandible, and crosses over the posterior root of the zygomatic process of the temporal bone; about 5 cm. above this process it divides into two branches, a frontal and a parietal.


As it crosses the zygomatic process, it is covered by the Auricularis anterior muscle, and by a dense fascia; it is crossed by the temporal and zygomatic branches of the facial nerve and one or two veins, and is accompanied by the auriculotemporal nerve, which lies immediately behind it.

The superficial temporal artery anastomoses with (among others) the supraorbital artery of the internal carotid artery.

Clinical relevance

The superficial temporal artery is often affected in temporal arteritis and biopsied if the diagnosis is suspected.

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