Inferior thyroid artery

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Inferior thyroid artery
Thyrocervical trunk.png
Thyrocervical trunk and its branches, including inferior thyroid artery. Superficial dissection of the right side of the neck.
Latin Arteria thyreoidea inferior
Supplies Thyroid gland
Thyrocervical trunk
Inferior thyroid veins
Gray's p.581
TA A12.2.08.043
FMA FMA:10662
Anatomical terminology

The inferior thyroid artery is an artery in the neck. It arises from the thyrocervical trunk and passes upward, in front of the vertebral artery and longus colli muscle. It then turns medially behind the carotid sheath and its contents, and also behind the sympathetic trunk, the middle cervical ganglion resting upon the vessel.

Reaching the lower border of the thyroid gland it divides into two branches, which supply the postero-inferior parts of the gland, and anastomose with the superior thyroid artery, and with the corresponding artery of the opposite side.


Inferior thyroid with the branch ascending cervical artery labeled. Rest of branches are hidden behind other tissues.

The branches of the inferior thyroid are:

Clinical significance[edit]

The relationship between the recurrent laryngeal nerve and inferior thyroid artery is highly variable.[1] The recurrent laryngeal nerve passes upward generally behind, but occasionally in front of, the inferior thyroid artery. This makes it vulnerable to injury during surgery that involves ligating the inferior thyroid artery, such as excision of the lower pole of the thyroid gland.

The injection of dye into the inferior thyroid artery can be used as an alternate method in identification the recurrent laryngeal nerve.[2]

Additional images[edit]


This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.

  1. ^ Yalçin B (February 2006). "Anatomic configurations of the recurrent laryngeal nerve and inferior thyroid artery". Surgery 139 (2): 181–7. doi:10.1016/j.surg.2005.06.035. PMID 16455326. 
  2. ^ Hepgul G, Kucukyilmaz M, Koc O, Duzkoylu Y, Sari YS, Erbil Y (2013). "The identification of recurrent laryngeal nerve by injection of blue dye into the inferior thyroid artery in elusive locations". Journal of Thyroid Research 2013: 539274. doi:10.1155/2013/539274. PMC 3563180. PMID 23401846. 

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