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Other Terms: Internal maxillary artery, Arteria maxillaris, Artère maxillaire
The maxillary artery is the larger of the two terminal branches of the external carotid artery. It arises in the parotid gland, opposite to or slightly lower than the neck of the lower jaw. The artery is divided into three portions: maxillary, pterygoid, and sphenomaxillary. The maxillary portion passes forward between the internal lateral ligament and the neck of the lower jaw. It reaches the lower margin of the external pterygoid muscle. The pterygoid portion extends obliquely upward and forward upon the outer surface of the external pterygoid muscle. It is hidden by the insertion of the temporal muscle. The sphenomaxillary portion lies in the sphenomaxillary fossa. The branches of the maxillary portion of the maxillary artery are: the deep auricular, tympanic, middle meningeal, small meningeal, and inferior dental arteries. The deep auricular artery pierces the wall of the external auditory canal to supply the tympanic membrane. The tympanic artery passes behind the temporomaxillary joint through the petrotympanic fissure to supply the tympanum. The middle meningeal artery runs upward between the two roots of the auriculotemporal nerve to the foramen spinosum, through which it enters the cranial cavity to supply the cranium and dura mater. The small meningeal artery ascends to the foramen ovale, through which, after supplying a branch to the nasal fossa and soft palate, it enters the cranial cavity. The inferior dental artery accompanies the inferior dental nerve and passes downward, upon the internal pterygoid muscle and the internal lateral ligament. It enters the inferior dental foramen together with the inferior dental nerve. The artery then occupies the inferior dental canal. The inferior dental artery gives off the mylohyoid artery, which accompanies the mylohyoid nerves. The branches of the pterygoid portion are the anterior and posterior deep temporal, internal and external pterygoid, and the masseteric and buccal arteries. The anterior and posterior deep temporal arteries pass upward through the corresponding parts of the temporal fossa, between he temporal muscle and the pericranium, which they supply. The pterygoid arteries supply the external and internal pterygoid muscles. The masseteric artery passes outward behind the temporal muscle, through the sigmoid notch of the lower jaw to the masseteric muscle. The buccal artery accompanies the long buccal nerve in its forward course between the ramus of the lower jaw and the external pterygoid to the buccinator muscle. The branches of the sphenomaxillary portion are the alveolar, infraorbital, descending palatine, artery of the pterygoid canal, pterygopalatine, and nasopalatine arteries. The alveolar artery gives off branches to the gums and the buccinator muscle, enters the superior maxilla at its zygomatic surface, and supplies the molar and bicuspid teeth and the mucous lining of the maxillary sinus. The infraorbital artery immediately enters the infraorbital groove and canal, accompanied by the superior maxillary divisions of the fifth pair of cranial nerves. It emerges upon the face along with the infraorbital nerve at the infraorbital foramen. It supplies branches to the orbit. It gives off an anterior superior dental branch, which runs downward in the anterior wall of the maxillary sinus and supplies the incisor and bicuspid teeth and the mucous membrane of the maxillary sinus. The descending palatine artery accompanies the posterior palatine branches the sphenopalatine ganglion of the fifth pair of cranial nerves, through the posterior palatine canal. It then emerges from the posterior palatine foramen, and passes forward in a groove situated near the alveolar process along the under surface of the hard palate. It then enters the incisive canals, a subdivision of the anterior palatine foramen. It anastomoses with the nasopalatine artery. It is distributed to the hard and soft palate, palatine glands, and gums. The Vidian artery runs backward with the Vidian nerve through the Vidian canal to supply the uppermost part of the pharynx, the auditory tubes, and the tympanum. The pterygopalatine artery which is very small passes backward with the pharyngeal nerve through the pterygopalatine canal to supply the upper pharynx, the sphenoid cells, and the auditory tube. The nasopalatine runs inward through the nasopalatine or sphenopalatine foramen into the superior meatus of the nose. It crosses the roof of the meatus between the mucous membrane and the bone to reach the septum of the nose. It runs downward and forward in a groove on the vomer, to anastomose with the posterior palatine artery. Two or three external branches are distributed to the mucous lining of the lateral nasal walls, the maxillary sinus, and the ethmoid and sphenoid cells.