Maxillary artery

Dr Henry Knipe and Assoc Prof Frank Gaillard et al.

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

Origin and course

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)


First (mandibular) part

Five branches, each of which enters a bony foramen:

Second (pterygoid or muscular) part

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

Third (pterygopalatine) part

Six branches including the terminal branch: 

A long mnemonic to remember these branches is: 

  • DAM I AM Piss Drunk But Stupid Drunk I Prefer, Must Phone Alcoholics Anonymous
Anatomy: Head and neck

Anatomy: Head and neck

Article information

rID: 4665
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Internal maxillary artery
  • Maxillary arteries
  • Internal maxillary arteries

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: internal maxillary artery
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 2: maxillary artery - diagram
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.