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Middle cerebral artery

The middle cerebral artery (MCA) is the largest and most complex of the three major cerebral arteries 1).

Most of the authors who have carried out anatomical studies of the middle cerebral artery agree on this being one of the least variable arteries. Nevertheless, they describe early bifurcation, trifurcation, quadrifurcation, duplication, single non-bifurcating trunk, hypoplasia, fenestrations, etc. The middle cerebral artery is one of the longest intracranial arteries, considered to be having one of the most extensive irrigation territories in the brain. The artery arises below the anterior perforated substance, lateral to the optical chiasm. It runs along the sylvian fissure up to the limen insula, where it bends at an angle which can be upto 90° and it is at that point where the bifurcation usually occurs.

The MCA arises from the internal carotid artery and continues into the lateral sulcus where it then branches and projects to many parts of the lateral cerebral cortex. It also supplies blood to the anterior temporal lobes and the insula. The artery supplies a portion of the frontal lobe and the lateral surface of the temporal and parietal lobes, including the primary motor and sensory areas of the face, throat, hand and arm, and in the dominant hemisphere, the areas for speech.

The left and right MCAs rise from trifurcations of the internal carotid arteries and thus are connected to the anterior cerebral artery and the posterior communicating artery, which connect to the posterior cerebral artery. The MCAs are not considered a part of the Circle of Willis.

The angular artery is a significant terminal branch of the anterior or middle trunk of the middle cerebral artery (MCA).




The MCA is divided into M1, M2, M3 and M4 segments:

M1 segment of the middle cerebral artery

M2 segment of the middle cerebral artery

M3 segment of the middle cerebral artery

M4 segment of the middle cerebral artery.

It is worth emphasizing that the nomenclature ‘M’ that designates the segments in which the middle cerebral artery is divided –proximal, pre-bifurcation: M1; post-bifurcation: M2, and beyond: M3 and M4, is derived from an angiographic study with anatomical correlation carried out by a Uruguayan neuroradiologist (Prof. Nestor Azambuja), who divided the artery in the segments whose denomination is used worldwide nowadays. As they were described in Montevideo (Uruguay), he used the first letter of the city where he developed his study. Since it coincides with “media” (middle, in English) named thus after the middle cerebral artery, the nomenclature was extended to the anterior cerebral artery, and in this case it is referred to as segment A1…

Ture et al., proposed the M5 segment, being the terminal segment. M4 and M5 segments give rise to orbitofrontal, prefrontal, precentral, central, anterior parietal, posterior parietal, angular, temporo‐occipital, posterior temporal, middle temporal, anterior temporal, and temporal polar arteries 2).


Rhoton AL., Jr The supratentorial arteries. Neurosurgery. 2002;51(Suppl 4):53–120.
Ture U, Yasargil MG, Al‐Mefty O, et al. Arteries of the insula. J Neurosurg. 2000;92:676–687.
middle_cerebral_artery.txt · Last modified: 2018/12/12 19:23 by administrador