Middle meningeal artery

Middle meningeal artery
Artery: Middle meningeal artery
Middle meningeal artery.png
Plan of branches of the maxillary artery.
Relations of the brain and middle meningeal artery to the surface of the skull.
Latin arteria meningea media
Gray's subject #144 560
Supplies meninges
Source internal maxillary artery   
Branches anterior: posterior: superior tympanic artery
Vein middle meningeal vein

The middle meningeal artery (Latin arteria meningea media) is typically the third branch of the first part (retromandibular part) of the maxillary artery, one of the two terminal branches of the external carotid artery. After branching off the maxillary artery in the infratemporal fossa, it runs through the foramen spinosum to supply the dura mater (the outermost meninges) and the calvaria. The middle meningeal artery is the largest of the three (paired) arteries which supply the meninges, the others being the anterior meningeal artery and the posterior meningeal artery.

In approximately half of subjects it branches into an accessory meningeal artery.

The middle meningeal artery runs beneath the pterion. It is vulnerable to injury at this point, where the skull is thin. Rupture of the artery may give rise to an epidural hematoma. In the dry cranium, the middle meningeal, which runs within the dura mater surrounding the brain, makes a deep indention in the calvarium.

The middle meningeal artery is intimately associated with the auriculotemporal nerve which wraps around the artery making the two easily identifiable in the dissection of human cadavers and also easily damaged in surgery.



Before entering cranium

It ascends between the sphenomandibular ligament and the Pterygoideus externus, and between the two roots of the auriculotemporal nerve to the foramen spinosum of the sphenoid bone, through which it enters the cranium; it then runs forward in a groove on the great wing of the sphenoid bone, and divides into two branches, anterior and posterior.

The anterior branch, the larger, crosses the great wing of the sphenoid, reaches the groove, or canal, in the sphenoidal angle of the parietal bone, and then divides into branches which spread out between the dura mater and internal surface of the cranium, some passing upward as far as the vertex, and others backward to the occipital region.

The posterior branch curves backward on the squamous part of the temporal bone, and, reaching the parietal bone some distance in front of its mastoid angle, divides into branches which supply the posterior part of the dura mater and cranium.

The branches of the middle meningeal artery are distributed partly to the dura mater, but chiefly to the bones; they anastomose with the arteries of the opposite side, and with the anterior and posterior meningeal arteries. The very smallest distal branches anastomose through the skull with small arterioles from the scalp.

Very rarely the ophthalmic artery may arise as a branch of the middle meningeal artery.

Branches upon entering cranium

On entering the cranium, the middle meningeal artery gives off the following branches:

Clinical relevance

An injured middle meningeal artery is the cause of an epidural hematoma. A head injury (e.g. from a road traffic accident or sports injury) is required to rupture the artery. Emergency treatment requires decompression of the haematoma, usually by craniotomy. Subdural bleeding is usually venous in nature, rather than arterial.

The middle meningeal artery runs in a groove on the inside of the cranium. This can clearly be seen on a lateral skull X-ray, where it may be mistaken for a fracture of the skull. On a dry specimen the groove is easy to see. This means that the artery is easy to study, even in specimens centuries old, and several classifications of the branches have been proposed, e.g. Adachi's classification of 1928.

Additional images

External links

This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained within it may be outdated.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • middle meningeal artery — n a branch of the first portion of the maxillary artery that is the largest artery supplying the dura mater, enters the cranium through the foramen spinosum, and divides into anterior and posterior branches in a groove in the greater wing of the… …   Medical dictionary

  • middle meningeal artery — noun branch of the maxillary artery; its branches supply meninges • Hypernyms: ↑meningeal artery, ↑arteria meningea …   Useful english dictionary

  • Petrosal branch of middle meningeal artery — Infobox Artery Name = PAGENAME Latin = ramus petrosus arteriae meningeae mediae GraySubject = 144 GrayPage = 560 Caption = The course and connections of the facial nerve in the temporal bone. Caption2 = The otic ganglion and its branches.… …   Wikipedia

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  • Middle cerebral artery — Artery: Middle cerebral artery Outer surface of cerebral hemisphere, showing areas supplied by cerebral arteries. (Pink is region supplied by middle cerebral artery.) …   Wikipedia

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  • Middle meningeal nerve — Nerve: Middle meningeal nerve Left parietal bone. Inner surface. (Nerve not labeled, but grooves visible at bottom.) Latin nervus meningeus medius Gray s …   Wikipedia

  • meningeal artery — noun any of three arteries supplying the meninges of the brain and neighboring structures • Syn: ↑arteria meningea • Hypernyms: ↑artery, ↑arteria, ↑arterial blood vessel • Hyponyms: ↑anterior meningeal artery, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Accessory meningeal artery — Infobox Artery Name = PAGENAME Latin = ramus accessorius arteriae meningeae mediae GraySubject = 144 GrayPage = 561 Caption = Plan of branches of internal maxillary artery. (Accessory meningeal visible top left) Caption2 = Plan of branches of… …   Wikipedia

  • Posterior meningeal artery — Artery: Posterior meningeal artery Posterior meningeal groove labeled at bottom left. Latin arteria meningea posterior Gray s …   Wikipedia

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