Carotid bifurcation

Last revised by Yahya Baba on 26 Apr 2022

The carotid bifurcation is the point at which the common carotid artery terminates. As it does so, it forms the internal and external carotid arteries which go on to supply the head and neck.

The height of the carotid bifurcation is noted to be highly variable in the literature. Most frequently the common carotid artery ascends until the level defined by the C4 vertebra posteriorly and upper border of thyroid cartilage anteriorly, where it enlarges into the carotid sinus before bifurcating into external and internal carotid arteries respectively. 

It is closely related anatomically to the carotid body, a small group of chemoreceptors and supporting matrix that reacts to the change in the composition of the blood flowing through the bifurcation.

Related pathology

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: arteries of the neck
    Drag here to reorder.
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