To describe the anatomical variability of the maxillary artery.
One hundred midsagittal sections of randomly selected adult cadaver heads with intact maxillary sinuses, pterygopalatine fossa, and surrounding structures.
Main Outcome Measures
The location of the proximal portion of the maxillary artery in relation to the lateral pterygoid muscle, the branches of the mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve, and the branching patterns of the third section of the maxillary artery.
The first and second sections of the maxillary artery most commonly traveled through the lateral aspect of the lateral pterygoid muscle, with the inferior alveolar nerve, lingual nerve, and buccal nerve on the medial side of the maxillary artery (61.0%). The course and branching type of the third section of the maxillary artery were classified into 3 patterns: loop (61.0%), bifurcated (19.0%), and straight (18.0%). In most cases (62.0%), the division point of the maxillary artery was located on the superior and medial thirds of the posterior wall of the maxilla.
This study provides detailed information concerning the anatomical variability of the maxillary artery, which we hope will help prevent the arterial bleeding that may occur during mandibular or maxillary osteotomy or maxillectomy for ligation of the sphenopalatine artery.