The maxillary artery (or internal maxillary artery in older texts) is an artery that supplies deep structures of the face. It comes just out behind the neck of the mandible.
The maxillary artery, the larger of the two terminal branches of the external carotid artery, arises behind the neck of the mandible, and is at first imbedded in the substance of the parotid gland; it passes forward between the ramus of the mandible and the sphenomandibular ligament, and then runs, either superficial or deep to the lateral pterygoid muscle, to the pterygopalatine fossa.
It supplies the deep structures of the face, and may be divided into mandibular, pterygoid, and pterygopalatine portions.
The first or mandibular portion
passes horizontally forward, between the neck of the mandible and the sphenomandibular ligament, where it lies parallel to and a little below the auriculotemporal nerve
; it crosses the inferior alveolar nerve
, and runs along the lower border of the lateral pterygoid muscle
The second or pterygoid portion
runs obliquely forward and upward under cover of the ramus of the mandible and insertion of the temporalis
, on the superficial (very frequently on the deep) surface of the lateral pterygoid muscle
; it then passes between the two heads of origin of this muscle and enters the fossa.
The third or pterygopalatine portion
lies in the pterygopalatine fossa
in relation with the pterygopalatine ganglion
- Formerly, the term "external maxillary artery" was used to describe what is now known as the facial artery (per Terminologia anatomica.) Currently, the term "external maxillary artery" is less commonly used, and the terms "internal maxillary artery" and "maxillary artery" are equivalent.
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