Internal Carotid Artery Position to Characterize Risk for Vessel Injury in Pediatric Intraoral Trauma

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International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology


Objective: The internal carotid artery (ICA) lies in close anatomic proximity to the oropharynx and is at risk for injury in the instance of intraoral trauma. The objectives of this study are to describe the position of the ICA relative to the oropharynx and identify patient risk factors related to its position.

Methods: A total of 100 patients aged 12 months to 7 years 11 months who received computed tomography (CT) of the neck were randomly selected. The position of the ICA was determined by measuring its angular location relative to the center of the oropharynx (ICA angle) and the shortest distance from the oropharyngeal surface (OP-ICA distance).

Results: Indication for imaging was controlled for in all reported data. Patient age was related to ICA angles on both the left (F = 8.06; P = 0.01; η2 = 0.08, 95% CI: 0.01-0.19) and right (F = 18.62; P < 0.001; η2 = 0.17, 95% CI: 0.05-0.29). Patient weight also was related to ICA angles on both the left (F = 7.08; P = 0.01; η2 = 0.07, 95% CI: 0.01-0.18) and right (F = 11.86; P < 0.001; η2 = 0.11, 95% CI: 0.02-0.24). Patient age was related to the left OP-ICA distance (F = 7.36; P = 0.01; η2 = 0.07, 95% CI: 0.01-0.19), as was patient weight (F = 4.82; P = 0.03; η2 = 0.05, 95% CI: 0.00-0.15). Across all measurements, no significant relationship was identified between ICA position and other patient variables, including sex and race/ethnicity.

Conclusion: The ICA of younger patients and those with lower body weight may be located more medially within the neck and closer to the oropharyngeal surface. This vessel position may place these children at greater anatomic susceptibility for ICA injury in the event of intraoral trauma.



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Internal carotid artery, Intraoral trauma, Oropharynx, Palate, Pediatric trauma