The maxillary artery (Latin: arteria maxillaris) is the largest terminal branch of the external carotid artery that arises at the back of the neck of the mandible. It supplies deep structures of the face, such as the mandible, maxilla, teeth, muscles of mastication, palate, nose, and part of the cranial dura mater.
At its origin, the maxillary artery is embedded in the parotid gland. After exoting the gland, it runs through the infratemporal fossa and enters the pterygopalatine fossa via the pterygomaxillary fissure. While passing through the pterygopalatine fossa, the maxillary artery divides into four branches, and gives off several side branches.
Topographically the maxillary artery can be divided into three portions:
- mandibular part,
- pterygoid part, and
- pterygopalatine part.
From the mandibular part, the maxillary artery gives off five branches that enter the skull and supply bones of the skull, including:
- deep auricular artery,
- anterior tympanic artery,
- middle meningeal artery,
- accessory meningeal artery,
- inferior alveolar artery.
The pterygoid part of the maxillary artery gives off the following four branches:
- deep temporal artery,
- pterygoid artery,
- masseteric artery,
- buccal artery.
These branches supply the corresponding muscles.
The pterygopalatine part of the maxillary artery provides four branches that accompany similarly named branches of the maxillary nerve. These branches include:
- posterior superior alveolar artery,
- infraorbital artery,
- descending palatine artery,
- sphenopalatine artery.