Cardiovascular System of the Head and Neck

The cardiovascular system of the head and neck includes the arteries which supply oxygenated blood to the brain (and to the other organs of the head, including the mouth and eyes), and the veins which return deoxygenated blood from these organs to the heart.

The brain requires a constant flow of blood to provide the glucose and oxygen that it needs to function properly while removing the accumulated wastes. Four arteries...

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Full Cardiovascular System of the Head and Neck Description

[Continued from above] . . . provide blood flow to the brain: the left and right internal carotid arteries and the left and right vertebral arteries. The internal carotid arteries provide blood mainly to the anterior regions of the brain while the vertebral arteries provide blood to the posterior regions. All four of the brain’s major arteries meet at a ring-shaped arterial junction known as the circle of Willis. The circle of Willis provides blood to the entire brain even if one of the arteries becomes blocked. Smaller arterioles and capillaries branch off from these arteries and run through the pia mater carrying blood to the individual regions of the brain.

Blood leaving the brain to return to the heart travels through two vein systems: the dural venous sinuses and the deep veins of the brain. The dural venous sinuses are channels within the dura mater that receive cerebrospinal fluid and blood from the superficial structures of the brain. The deep veins of the brain receive blood from the deeper structures of the brain. Both vein systems drain into the internal jugular vein, which carries blood back to the heart.

Prepared with the help of Tim Taylor, Anatomy and Physiology Instructor