The lingual artery springs from the external carotid artery immediately behind the tip of the greater horn of the hyoid bone, and its general directions is forwards and upwards. At first it makes a bend (convex upwards) above the tip of the horn; it then run forwards above the hyoid bone under cover of the hypoglossus , and, thirdly, upwards along the anterior border of the hypoglossus to the tongue, where it ends by becoming the deep artery of the tongue.
Its first part is fairly superficial in the carotid triangle, where it is covered only by the skin and fasciae and the hypoglossal nerve, which crosses the loop or bend of the artery. It gives off the suprahyoid artery, which runs forwards along the upper border of the hyoid bone, superficial hypoglossus.
The second part gives off two or more dorsales linguae arteries. They run upwards and backwards, giving branches to the muscular substances of the tongue, and end in the mucous membrane of its pharyngeal surface and in the tonsil.
The third part is crossed by the branches of the hypoglossal nerve and by the submandibular duct and the lingual nerve. Its branch is the sublingual artery which runs upwards and forwards to the sublingual gland to supply it and neighboring muscles.
The deep artery of the tongue is the continuation of the lingual artery, though sometimes described as including the "third part". It enters the tongue about its middle, and runs forwards to the tip, separated only by the deep vein from the mucous membrane of the lower surface of the tongue near the frenulum linguae. Its course is tortuous to allow for the elongation of the tongue when protruded; it gives numerous branches to the substance of the tongue.