Lingual Artery

Written by Janani Lambotharan

Last updated July 9, 2024 • 6 Revisions

The lingual artery is an artery of the head and neck region. It is the third major branch of the external carotid artery.

It is responsible for the blood supply to the tongue and floor of the mouth.

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The lingual artery originates from the anteromedial aspect of the external carotid artery at the level of the hyoid bone (C3).

It ascends medially along the surface of the middle pharyngeal constrictor muscle. It then passes deep to the hypoglossal nerve, stylohyoid muscle and posterior belly of the digastric.

The lingual artery enters the tongue by passing deep to the hyoglossus muscle. It terminates by dividing into deep lingual and sublingual branches within the substance of the tongue,

Fig 1
The lingual artery is the third major branch of the external carotid artery.


The lingual artery supplies structures in the head and neck via four main branches:

  • Suprahyoid branch – supplies the suprahyoid muscles of the neck.
  • Dorsal lingual branches – supply the posterior tongue, soft palate, palatine tonsil and epiglottis.
  • Sublingual branch – supplies the sublingual gland, mylohyoid muscle, and floor of the mouth.
  • Deep lingual branch – supplies the tongue.

Fig 2
Major branches of the lingual artery.