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Superficial temporal artery

Superficial temporal artery
Outline of side of face, showing chief surface markings. (Superficial temporal a. visible at center, to left of ear.)
File:Superficial temporal artery.PNG
Superficial dissection of the right side of the neck, showing the carotid and subclavian arteries.
Latin arteria temporalis superficialis
External carotid artery
Transverse facial artery
Middle temporal artery
Anterior auricular branch
frontal branch
parietal branch
superficial temporal vein
Supplies temple, scalp
Gray's p.559
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Anatomical terminology
"Superficial temporal" redirects here. For the vein, see Superficial temporal vein.

In human anatomy, the superficial temporal artery is a major artery of the head. It arises from the external carotid artery when it bifurcates into the superficial temporal artery and maxillary artery.

Its pulse is palpable superior to the zygomatic arch, anterior and superior to the tragus.


The superficial temporal artery is the smaller of two terminal branches that bifurcate superiorly from the external carotid. Based on its direction, the superficial temporal artery appears to be a continuation of the external carotid.

It begins in the substance of the parotid gland, behind the neck of the mandible, and passes superficially over the posterior root of the zygomatic process of the temporal bone; about 5 cm. above this process it divides into two branches, a frontal and a parietal.


As it crosses the zygomatic process, it is covered by the Auricularis anterior muscle, and by a dense fascia; it is crossed by the temporal and zygomatic branches of the facial nerve and one or two veins, and is accompanied by the auriculotemporal nerve, which lies immediately behind it.

The superficial temporal artery anastomoses with (among others) the supraorbital artery of the internal carotid artery.

Clinical relevance

The superficial temporal artery is often affected in giant-cell arteritis and biopsied if the diagnosis is suspected.

Migraine attacks can occur when the temporal artery enlarges.

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