Additional localizing superficial landmarks for intracranial structures can be of use to the neurosurgeon. This study was performed to evaluate the usefulness of the superficial temporal artery (STA) as an external landmark for deeper brain structures. Thirteen adult cadavers (26 sides) underwent latex injection of their STA bilaterally. Dissections were next carried out to identify this vessel. Once the STA and its frontal and parietal branches were skeletonized, craniectomies were performed and the underlying dura mater excised. Measurements were made between the frontal and parietal branches of the STA and deeper brain structures. The STA was found to branch on average 3 cm superior to the tragus. The bifurcation of the STA was found to commonly bifurcate at the level of the floor of the middle cranial fossa or superior temporal gyrus. The Sylvian fissure was found at a mean of 2 cm superior to the STA bifurcation. The angle between the frontal branch of the STA and the zygomatic arch had a mean of 37°. The angle between the frontal and parietal branches of the STA had a mean of 87°. At the level of the glabella, the frontal branch of the STA was on average 3 cm posterior to the frontal pole. The temporal tip was located a mean of 3.2 cm anterior to the frontal branch of the STA. The plane of the foramen of Monro was found to lie at a mean distance of 2.3 cm posterior to the frontal branch of the STA. The parietal branch of the STA was noted to travel more or less parallel with the central sulcus in all specimens and to travel an average of 2 cm posterior to this sulcus. At the level of the lateral attachment of the tentorium cerebelli, the parietal branch of the STA was found to travel a mean of 4.8 cm anterior to the entrance of the vein of Labbé into the transverse sinus. The parietal branch of the STA was also found to travel a mean of 4.2 cm anterior to the angular gyrus and 3.9 cm anterior to the supramarginal gyrus. Palpation or Doppler identification of the STA and its branches with subsequent mapping on the lateral cranium may prove useful as an additional superficial landmark for the neurosurgeon.
- External carotid artery
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