VARIATIONS IN BRANCHING PATTERN OF EXTERNAL CAROTID ARTERY IN A BLACK KENYAN POPULATION

Julius A. Ogeng’o, Musa K. Misiani, Poonamjeet Loyal, Kevin W. Ongeti, Jacob Gimongo, Martin I. Inyimili, Acleus K. Murunga

Corresponding Author Address: Musa Misiani Department of Human Anatomy, University of Nairobi P. O. Box 00100 – 30197 Nairobi, Kenya.

ABSTRACT
Knowledge of variations in branching of external carotid artery is important to minimise inadvertent injury
and confusion in identification during neck and craniofacial surgery and interventional neuroradiology. These variations show ethnic differences. Procedures in head and neck are increasing but data on these variations among black populations are scarce. This study therefore examined the branching pattern of external carotid artery in a black Kenyan population. Two hundred and twenty-four common carotid arteries of 112 black adult Kenyans were exposed by cadaveric dissection at Department of Human Anatomy, University of Nairobi, Kenya. The sternocleidomastoid muscle and body of mandible were removed and the external carotid artery and its branches exposed. The conventional pattern of branching was observed in only 41.1% of cases. The variant patterns observed were trifurcation (26.8)%, bifurcation (17.9%) and quadrifurcation (8.9%). There were 20 (5.3%) cases of early division. Linguofacial trunk was observed in 44.7% cases. Frequency of variant branching pattern of external carotid artery in the population studied is high. Interventional radiologists, vascular, craniofacial and neck surgeons should be aware of these. Preoperative sonographic evaluation of the carotid arterial system is recommended.

Key words: External carotid artery, Variation, Trifurcation, Quadrifurcation, African.
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