Internal carotid artery

  • The internal carotid artery (latin: arteria carotis interna) arises from the bifurcation of the common carotid artery at the level between the third and fourth cervical vertebrae. The internal carotid artery supplies most of the cerebral hemisphere, eye and its appendages, forehead, the external nose, nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses.

    From its origin the internal carotid artery passes up the neck in front of the transverse processes of the superior three cervical vertebrae, first lying lateral to the external carotid artery, then passing deeper and medially from it. The internal carotid artery enters the cranial cavity via the inferior aperture of the carotid canal in the petrous part of the temporal bone without giving off any branches. Here the internal carotid artery turns anteriorly, passes through the cavernous sinus in the carotid groove and exits it at the level of the anterior clinoid process. From here the internal carotid artery forms a small curvature upwards and then backwards, and divides into the following branches:

    • anterior cerebral artery
    • middle cerebral artery,
    • ophthalmic artery,
    • anterior choroidal artery,
    • posterior communicating artery.