Maxillary artery

Last revised by Yvette Mellam on 12 May 2024

The (internal) maxillary artery is the larger of the two terminal branches of the external carotid artery

The maxillary artery's origin is behind the neck of the mandible, at first, it is embedded in the substance of the parotid gland. From there it passes anterior between the ramus of the mandible and the sphenomandibular ligament, and then runs, either superficial or deep to the lateral pterygoid muscle, to the pterygopalatine fossa. It supplies the deep structures of the face.

The maxillary artery is divided into three portions by its relation to the lateral pterygoid muscle:

  • first (mandibular) part: posterior to lateral pterygoid muscle (five branches)

  • second (pterygoid or muscular) part: within lateral pterygoid muscle (five branches)

  • third (pterygopalatine) part: anterior to lateral pterygoid muscle (six branches including terminal branch)

Five branches, each of which enters a bony foramen:

Five branches although pterygoid branches are irregular in their number and origin:

Six branches including the terminal branch: 

  • a long mnemonic to remember these branches

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