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J Clin Exp Dent. 2017 May 1;9(5):e682-e687. doi: 10.4317/jced.53832. eCollection 2017 May.

Vascular labeling of the head and neck vessels: Technique, advantages and limitations.

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Oral Surgery and Implantology Master degree program; Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Barcelona, Spain.
Human Anatomy and Embryology Unit. Experimental Pathology and Therapeutics Dpt, University of Barcelona (Spain). Facultat de Medicina. C/ Feixa Llarga, s/n; Pavelló Govern, 5ª planta, 08907 L'Hospitalet de Llobregat; Barcelona, Spain.
Human Anatomy Unit, Biomedical department and Odontology department, University of Antofagasta, Chile.



Vascular staining techniques have been used to describe the vascular structures of several anatomic areas. However, few reports have described this procedure in the head and neck region. This paper describes a head and neck vascular labeling procedure, and describes some of the technical complications that may occur.


Fifteen specimen cadaver heads were prepared. After drying the vascular system, the internal carotid arteries were ligated and a solution with latex and a gelling agent was injected into the internal carotid arteries and external jugular veins. Two different colors were employed to differentiate arteries from veins. A total of 60ml latex was injected into each blood vessel. Subsequently, the specimens were refrigerated at 5°C for a minimum of 24 hours. Finally, a dissection was performed to identify the venous and arterial systems of the maxillofacial region.


In most specimens, correct identification of the vascular structures (lingual artery, pterigoyd plexus, and the major palatal arteries, among others) was possible. However, in three heads a major technical problem occurred (the latex remained liquid), making the dissection unfeasible. Other minor complications such as latex obstruction due to the presence of atheromas were found in two further specimens.


The vascular labeling technique is a predictable, effective and simple method for analyzing the vascular system of the maxillofacial area in cadaveric studies, including vessels of reduced diameter or with an intraosseous course. This procedure can be especially useful to teach vascular anatomy to dental students and postgraduate residents. Key words:Blood vessels, vascular casting, vascular labeling, head and neck arteries, carotid arteries, jugular veins.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of interest statement:The remaining authors do not have any conflicts of interest to declare.

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