Background: Preoperative knowledge of a patient's individual variations in facial artery anatomy would benefit plastic surgeons for reconstructive planning. The authors evaluated the feasibility of multislice computed tomographic angiography in vascular mapping of the facial artery.
Methods: In total, 187 facial arteries in 94 patients without facial tumor or vascular disease were studied. Anatomical variations of the facial artery were classified into four types: type 1, a short course that terminates proximal to the superior labial artery; type 2, an intermediate course that terminates distal to the superior labial artery near the nasolabial fold; type 3, a classic course that extends to the lateral nasal ala beyond the nasolabial fold with an angular branch; and type 4, duplex with dominant lateral angular branch. Facial artery patterns were compared with dominant patterns of the facial–submental artery bifurcation. The extent of the inferior and superior labial artery was evaluated separately.
Results: Sixty-four facial artery branches (34 percent) were classified as type 1, 74 (40 percent) as type 2, and 45 (24 percent) as type 3. Type 4 was seen in only four branches (2 percent). The facial artery was dominant in the facial–submental artery bifurcation in 84 percent of type 3 facial arteries. Three-dimensional volume-rendered images allow detailed visualization of the facial artery and its branches and help preoperative mapping.
Conclusion: Facial computed tomographic angiography allows detailed visualization of the facial artery and its branches and is a potential noninvasive imaging tool for preoperative vascular mapping for facial reconstructive operations.
CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Diagnostic, IV.