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Background : The common carotid artery (CCA) bifurcates into and internal carotid arteries. Though variations have been observed, the most common site for bifurcation relative to the vertebral level is at the 4th cervical vertebra. Common carotid artery division sites have not been studied in Thailand, so our aim was to inventory the site of bifurcation in Thai cadavers.
Objective : To determine the site of bifurcation of the common carotid artery relative to the vertebral level.
Study design: A descriptive study.
Setting : The study was carried out at the Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen university, Thailand.
Subjects : The study included one hundred and ten specimens from fifty five Thai cadaver, sthirty eight males and seventeen females ranging in age from 26 to 80 years.
Methods : 1). The location of each common carotid artery division was noted with respect to the vertebral level.
2). The distance between site of bifurcation and origin of the common carotid artery was measured by using vernier calipers.
Results: We included 110 bifurcations of both sides in this study. The site of bifurcation of the common carotid artery occurred only at the cervical vertebrae with seven variations : C1 8.1%, C1-2 1.8%, C2 40%, C2-3 3.6% C3 41.8%, C3-4 0.9% and C4 3.6% The bifurcation site for the left common carotid artery (CCA) was most often (43.6%) at the C2 level whereas the right CCA was at the C3 level (41.8%). The average distance between site of bifurcation and origin of the left CCA is 12.27 cm (SD = 1.52) and 9.64 cm (SD = 1.48) for the right.
Conclusion: The site of bifurcation of the CCA in This is commonly at the level of the 3rd cervical vertebra as mentioned in various textbooks, which was observed only 3.6 % of Thai subjects. We did not find any site of division below the C4. Such observations have clinical implications for any manipulation of the CCA.
Key Words: Common Carotid Artery, CCA, Bifurcation, Vertebral Level.
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