Common Carotid Artery
The common carotid artery is a vessel that serves to transport oxygenated blood from the heart to the neck and head. It is also referred to as carotis communis. The origin of the common carotid artery is in the brachiocephalic artery which arises as an immediate branch of the aorta when it leaves the heart. The common carotid artery branches into two one on the right side and one on the left side of the neck.
Each of the branches of the common carotid further branch into the external and internal carotid arteries that span a network of blood vessels that supply blood to the neck upto the region of the brain.
Of the two branches of the common carotid artery the left branch supplies both the thoracic region and the neck while the right branch does not supply the thorax with blood. In the thoracic region the left branch of the common carotid artery lies on top of the oesophagus and trachea.
The branches of the common carotid are similar in the cervical region. Their trajectory follows upward behind the sternoclavicular joint till they meet with the thyroid gland where further branching into internal and external carotid arteries occurs.
The common carotid artery is located in the carotid sheath formed by the cervical fascia, internal jugular vein and the vagus nerve. While at the neck region the common carotid is well protected by overlying muscles and is deeply seated, it becomes more superficial as it moves upward in its course.
The common carotid artery is overlapped by the thyroid gland. The common carotid artery is normally the region where the pulse of a patient is measured when his/her stability is to be judged and no satisfactory conclusion can be drawn from testing at the other normal peripheral arteries of the body.