Linguofacial trunk

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 12 Sep 2021

A linguofacial trunk is a rare variation of the anterior branches of the external carotid artery. The lingual artery and facial artery share a common trunk rather than branching independently from the external carotid artery 1. Unlike the thyrolingual or thyrolinguofacial variations in which the superior thyroid artery shares a common trunk with another anterior branch, the superior thyroid artery remains independent in this variation. 

Epidemiology

The prevalence varies with some studies suggesting a prevalence as low as 10% or as high as 21% 3.

Clinical importance

Branching patterns of the carotid arteries are important in procedures, both surgical and radiological of the head and neck. Atypical anatomy has a correlation with complications and are a consideration in the treatment of unexpected hemorrhage 2. When performing chemoembolization consideration of anatomy is important due to common tissue supplied by variant trunks. 2,3.  

During carotid endarterectomy branches of the external carotid artery act as key landmarks and therefore an appreciation of variation in pattern is also important to avoid complications 4.

While ligating the lingual artery it is important not to ligate a linguofacial trunk as doing so will reduce blood flow to the distribution of the facial artery 5

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: variants of the anterior external carotid artery branches
    Drag here to reorder.