The maxillary artery (MA) passes over the lateral pterygoid muscle in the infratemporal fossa and enters the pterygopalatine fossa through the pterygomaxillary fissure. Refractory epistaxis is managed by ligation of the sphenopalatine artery via a transmaxillary-transantral approach; there is considerable risk of complications associated with such invasive surgical approaches. The aim of this study was to describe the gross anatomy and variations therein of the MA and its branches at the pterygopalatine fossa. One hundred hemifaces of embalmed Korean adult cadavers were dissected to establish the precise course of the MA and its branching patterns. The average thickness of the posterior wall of the maxillary sinus was 0.8 mm, but varied over a wide range from 0.2 to 3.6 mm. We classified the third part of the MA into 3 morphological categories: looped (61%), bifurcated (19%), and straight (18%). Two cases could not be classified into any of these 3 categories. The pattern of the bifurcation between the sphenopalatine and descending palatine arteries was classified into 4 types: Y (19%), intermediate (36%), M (17%), and T (28%). The posterior wall of the maxillary sinus was divided into 9 sections. The branching areas of the sphenopalatine and descending palatine arteries were most frequently (62% of cases) located at the top of the medial partition and at the middle of the medial partition (30% of cases).
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