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Superficial temporal artery

The superficial temporal artery (Latin: arteria temporalis superficialis) is one of the terminal branches of the external carotid artery. It supplies the upper and lateral parts of the scalp.

Course

The superficial temporal artery separates from the external carotid artery behind the neck of the mandible. It passes upward near the auricle, over the posterior root of the zygomatic process of the temporal bone. At this point, the pulse of the superficial temporal artery is palpable. 

Branches

Above the zygomatic process, the superficial temporal artery divides into two branches, the frontal and parietal branches. 

The frontal branch of the superficial temporal artery supplies the forehead area and anastomoses with the ophthalmic artery

The parietal branch of the superficial temporal artery supplies the temporal and parietal regions of the scalp. It also may form anastomoses with the posterior auricular artery and the occipital artery

The superficial temporal artery also gives off the following side branches that supply the external earparotid glandtemporal muscle:

  • transverse facial artery,
  • anterior auricular branches,
  • middle temporal artery.

Pathology

The superficial temporal artery is frequently involved in a pathology called the giant-cell arteritis (or temporal arteritis), which is a form of systemic inflammatory vasculitis. The temporal arteritis damages blood vessels resulting in subsequent distal ischemia. Clinical symptoms include headache, visual disturbances, neck pain, and scalp tenderness.