External carotid artery

The external carotid artery arises from the common carotid artery in the carotid triangle of the neck and ascends through the neck behind the lower jaw and in front of the ear. While ascending, the artery crosses the posterior belly of the digastric muscle and stylohyoid muscle. It reaches the retromandibular fossa from where it enters the parotid gland and goes through it till the neck of the mandible, where it divides into two terminal branches.

The artery supplies regions of the head and neck outside the skull.

As mentioned above, the artery terminates within the parotid gland tissue, where it divides into its terminal branches:

  • Superficial temporal artery 
  • Maxillary artery 

On its course, the external carotid artery also gives off six side branches that are subdivided into three groups depending on which side of the external carotid artery they arise: