Object: The cortical arteries arising from the main trunk of the middle cerebral artery, proximal to its bifurcation or trifurcation, are called "early branches." The purpose of this study was to characterize these early branches.
Methods: The early branches were characterized according to their sites and patterns of origin, diameters, and relative proximity to the internal carotid artery bifurcation, as well as the course and area of supply of their cortical branches based on an examination of 50 hemispheres. Special attention was directed to the perforating arteries that arose from the early branches and entered the anterior perforated substance. The anatomical findings were compared with data obtained from 109 angiograms.
Conclusions: Early branches directed to the temporal and frontal lobes were found in 90 and 32% of the hemispheres, respectively. The early branches that arose more proximally from the M1 segment were larger than those arising distally. Lenticulostriate arteries arose from 81% of the early frontal branches (EFBs) and from 48% of the early temporal branches (ETBs). An average of two cortical arteries arose from the EFBs and 1.3 from the ETBs, the most common of which supplied the temporopolar and orbitofrontal areas. Although the microsurgical anatomy of the early branches demonstrates abundant diversity, they can be classified into clearly defined patterns based on anatomical features. These patterns can prove helpful in evaluating angiographic data and in planning an operative procedure.