Part of the TeachMe Series

Superior Thyroid Artery

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Original Author(s): Oliver Jones
Last updated: December 11, 2023
Revisions: 4

Original Author(s): Oliver Jones
Last updated: December 11, 2023
Revisions: 4

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The superior thyroid artery is an artery of the anterior neck. It is the first major branch of the external carotid artery.

It supplies the thyroid gland and surrounding structures in the neck.

Course

The superior thyroid artery arises from the external carotid artery within the carotid triangle of the neck, just below the greater horn of the hyoid bone.

It travels inferiorly and anteriorly, along the lateral border of the thyrohyoid muscle and deep to sternohyoid and omohyoid muscles.

When it reaches the thyroid gland, it terminates by dividing into four branches:

  • Infrahyoid – supplies the infrahyoid muscles.
  • Superior laryngeal – supplies the structures within the upper larynx.
  • Cricothyroid – supplies the cricothyroid muscle.
  • Glandular – supplies the superior aspect of the thyroid gland.

It is closely associated with the external branch of the superior laryngeal nerve along its course.

Fig 1 – Course of the superior thyroid artery. It has a highly variable branching pattern.

Supply

The superior thyroid artery supplies the thyroid gland, infrahyoid muscles, upper larynx and cricothyroid muscle.

Fig 2 – The superior thyroid artery contributes to the blood supply of the infrahyoid muscles of the neck