Superficial Temporal Artery

Your superficial temporal artery sends blood to your scalp and face. It starts below your ear and runs vertically between your cheekbone and your ear. Providers often use your superficial temporal artery to help with blood flow when you have an issue in your brain. They can use it for certain minimally invasive procedures, as well.


Your superficial temporal artery and its branches bring blood to your scalp and face.
Your superficial temporal artery has multiple branches that take blood to your face and scalp.

What is a superficial temporal artery?

The superficial temporal artery is a terminal branch of your external carotid artery, which is in your neck. You have a carotid artery on the left and right sides of your neck. The same is true for your superficial temporal arteries on either side of your head.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


What is the superficial temporal artery responsible for?

The superficial temporal artery supplies blood to your face and scalp.

Healthcare providers often use your superficial temporal artery for a bypass route (alternate blood source) to provide blood flow when you have an issue in your brain, such as:

They may also use your superficial temporal artery as a route for certain endovascular treatments or angiograms.


Where is your superficial temporal artery located?

Your superficial temporal artery starts in your parotid gland (below and in front of your ear) and runs up and down between your cheekbone and your ear.


What are the parts of a superficial temporal artery?

Your superficial temporal artery branches off into two main branches — the frontal and parietal branches.

  • Your frontal branch sends blood to your forehead’s muscles and skin.
  • Your parietal branch provides blood to the parietal and temporal regions of your head. These are above your ears — roughly the area where you’d wear a headset.

Other branches of the superficial temporal artery include:

  • Transverse facial artery.
  • Middle temporal artery.
  • Zygomatico-orbital artery.
  • Auricular artery.

Anatomic differences in superficial temporal arteries

The way your superficial temporal artery branches off into other arteries can vary from person to person. Some people can have two — or rarely, three — frontal branches or parietal branches coming from one superficial temporal artery.

The point where your superficial temporal artery splits may be more above or below your cheekbone than in other people.

Also, the superficial temporal artery anatomy on one side of your head may look different from the one on the right side of your head.

What does a superficial temporal artery look like?

Like other arteries, your superficial temporal artery has a tube shape with three layers:

  • An inner layer (intima) of muscle, elastin and endothelial cells.
  • A middle layer (media) of muscle that makes the artery’s diameter larger or smaller.
  • An outer layer (adventitia) that links to tissues that receive blood from the artery.

Conditions and Disorders

What are the common conditions and disorders that affect a superficial temporal artery?

Conditions that can affect your superficial temporal artery may include:

What are the symptoms of superficial temporal artery damage?

Symptoms of damage to your superficial temporal artery may include:

  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • A painful lump under your skin near that artery’s location.
  • Fatigue.
  • Temple or scalp tenderness.
  • Issues with your vision.
  • Bleeding.

What are the common tests to check the health of a superficial temporal artery?

Healthcare providers can use imaging to check your superficial temporal artery. Types of imaging may include:

You may also need blood tests.

What are the common treatments for a superficial temporal artery?

Treatments for a superficial temporal artery may include:

  • Surgery for an aneurysm.
  • Thrombin injection for a pseudoaneurysm.
  • Medication for temporal arteritis.
  • Surgical repair for an injury that damages your artery.


How do you care for your superficial temporal artery?

Any lifestyle habits that benefit your heart and blood vessels will help your superficial temporal artery, too. That includes:

  • Eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Avoiding tobacco products.
  • Limiting alcohol intake.
  • Limiting salt intake.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

It’s easy to forget about your body’s hardworking arteries that deliver oxygen and nutrients to your cells. A heart-healthy lifestyle helps your blood vessels work well. But things can go wrong with arteries sometimes, and your superficial temporal artery is no different. Regular appointments with your healthcare provider can help you make sure you’re not developing any issues.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/01/2023.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Appointments 800.659.7822