The maxillary artery is the larger of the two terminal branches of the external
carotid artery in the parotid
gland. It arises immediately behind the neck of the mandible,
and runs forward medial to it, to reach the lower border of the lateral
pterygoid muscle. The artery then passes upward and forward, either
superficial or deep to the lower head of the lateral pterygoid. It then
leaves the infratemporal fossa by entering the pterygopalatine
fossa. Here it splits up into branches, which accompany the branches
of the maxillary nerve. These branches
supply the external auditory meatus and the middle
ear, the muscles of the region, the skull bones and the dura mater.
The most important branch is the middle meningeal.
|Dissection of the infratemporal fossa,
showing the maxillary artery
The inferior dental artery also is an important artery
as it supplies the teeth of the lower jaw. It descends with the inferior
dental nerve to enter the mandibular canal through the mandibular foramen.
A slender branch accompanies the mylohyoid nerve; and another branch passes
out through the mental foramen with the mental nerve. The venae comitantes of the inferior dental artery almost fill the mandibular foramen; and they
end in the pterygoid plexus.