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J Morphol. 1981 Nov;170(2):207-14.

The internal carotid artery does not directly supply the brain in the Monodontidae (order Cetacea).


In this paper we describe the gross and microscopic anatomy of the internal carotid artery and demonstrate that this vessel does not directly supply blood to the brain, in the Monodontidae (order Cetacea). Our account is based on gross dissections and perfusion casts of the arterial vasculature in Delphinapterus leucas and Monodon monoceros and on histological material from the latter species. The internal carotid artery originates low in the neck and extends to the carotid rete at the base of the brain. The vessel tapers dramatically along its cervical course and changes from an artery elastic in nature to one more muscular. A single large cervical branch occurs in D. leucas and supplies cerebrally related retia in this region and prevertebral muscles. No cervical branches occur in M. monoceros. In otic regions, the internal carotid artery is small and muscular. A lumen is present; however, a split internal and external elastic lamella and a thickened subendothelial layer are evident. Though patent in the neck and ear, the vessel appears occluded within the carotid canal. At this level, the vessel is characterized by absence of a lumen and by fragmented elastic lamellae. We conclude that the internal carotid artery is anatomically closed at a level just proximal to the carotid rete and hence has no direct involvement with cerebral blood supply in the Monodontidae. Our results confirm other investigators' work on smaller cetacean species.

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