The middle cerebral artery (MCA) is one of the major arteries that leads to the brain. It branches off of the internal carotid artery and connects to the circle of Willis.
The following are branches of the MCA:
- Lenticulostriate artereis
- MCA superior division
- MCA inferior division
The MCA provides blood flow to a large portion of the brain’s cerebral hemispheres: the below images give a clear representation of which areas of the brain are supplied blood by this artery.
General regions supplied by MCA
Coronal section of regions supplied by MCA
Axial section of regions supplied by MCA
CAUSES OF INJURY
Strokes can be a common cause of injury that can involve the MCA (and result in damage to the territories it usually perfuses). In terms of the MCA, these stories are commonly thrombotic (clot forming at the direct site of the infarct, often over an atherosclerotic plaque). Embolic stroke (possibly due to atrial fibrillation) can often involve the MCA.
CLINICAL PRESENTATION OF INJURY
There can a be many different types of clinical presentations if the MCA is damage or the territory it supplies blood loses perfusion. These can include:
- Weakness/sensory loss in the face/arms (the motor and sensory cortexes that control these regions of the body are within the MCA territory)
- Wernicke/Broca aphasia if issue resides on dominant (usually left) hemisphere.
- Hemineglect if issue relies on non-dominant (usually right) hemisphere
- Certain visual field defects such as upper or lower audrantic anopia can be caused by MCA infarcts.
Paralysis/sensory loss will be contralateral to the side of the MCA infarct (given that these nerves cross over to the other side in the brainstem).
Atherosclerosis usually develops in branch points of an artery, this can include the bifurcation of the middle cerebral artery in the circle of Willis.
Page updated: 03.14.2016