OBJECTIVE: To examine the microsurgical anatomy and clinical significance of an anomalous origin of the ophthalmic artery from the middle meningeal artery.
METHODS: In the course of an anatomic study of the cavernous sinus, an anomalous ophthalmic artery arising from the middle meningeal artery was found. To further define the anatomy of the region, five additional skulls, in which the arteries and veins were injected with colored latex, were dissected using 3× to 40× magnification.
RESULTS: The anomalous ophthalmic artery arose from the frontal branch of the middle meningeal artery, passed through the superior orbital fissure, and supplied the entire contents of the orbit, as well as giving rise to the central retinal artery. This study provides the first display of this anomaly in an anatomic dissection.
CONCLUSION: The ophthalmic artery may infrequently arise from the middle meningeal artery. This anomaly places the ophthalmic artery at risk during procedures in which the dura is elevated from the greater and lesser wings of the sphenoid or when the sphenoid ridge is removed and during embolization procedures involving the branches of the external carotid artery.