The superficial temporal artery is one of the largest blood vessels in the neck. Branching off from the external carotid, it assists in delivering oxygenated blood from the heart to regions within the neck and head. The other branch of the external carotid includes the maxillary artery.
This artery begins around the mandible, or lower jawbone, and the parotid gland — a gland located in front of the ear, which produces saliva for use in the mouth. Toward the end of its course, the superficial temporal artery splits into the frontal and parietal branches.
During its course, the artery travels over the zygomatic process, the area of bone that lies under the cheeks. There, the auricularis muscle covers it. Two branches of the facial nerve also cross the artery at the zygomatic process.
Since it is a major artery within the neck and head, damage to or blockage of this artery could pose serious health problems. However, reports of aneurysms — weak, bulging areas of a vessel — tend to be rare. The superficial temporal artery, along with the occipital artery, has been associated with chronic migraine headaches.