The vascular supply to the head and neck is chiefly derived from the carotid system of arteries. Numerous variations have been reported regarding the level of origin of the external carotid artery and its branching pattern. Clinically, the branches of the external carotid artery are important in head and neck surgeries involving the thyroid, oro-facial reconstruction, diagnosis and treatment of tumors of the head and neck. This study aimed to observe the origin and branching pattern of the external carotid artery in the Indian Punjabi population. The study was done on both sides of 15 formalin-fixed adult human cadavers, thus making up to 30 carotid systems. The level of origin of the external carotid artery and its individual branches were measured. Out of the 30 carotid systems studied, only four showed the typical level of origin at the upper border of the thyroid cartilage, with trifurcations seen in eight cases and one case showing tetrafurcation. 53.33% of the external carotid systems showed the presence of at least one common trunk of origin, of which linguo-facial trunk was seen in 26.67%, pharyngo- occipital trunk in 23.33% and auriculo-occipital trunk in 13.33% cases. Moreover, an aberrant ascending pharyngeal artery was noticed, with communication to the internal carotid artery.
Aby S. Charles 1, Suganthy Rabi 2, Anjali Jain 3, Parminder K. Rana 4
1 Christian Medical College, Ludhiana*
2 Christian Medical College, Vellore
3 Christian Medical College, Ludhiana
4 Christian Medical College, Ludhiana**
* Christian Medical College, Vellore
** Adelaide Medical School, Adelaide