Persistent stapedial artery: does it prevent successful surgery?

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1993 Sep;102(9):724-8. doi: 10.1177/000348949310200914.


Because of the important function of the embryologic stapedial artery, it is taken for granted by many surgeons that the finding of such a persistent artery in postnatal humans during middle ear surgery should urge maximal caution in order not to damage the artery. Often, discontinuation of the surgery is recommended. Yet this attitude is based on theoretic considerations rather than on any clinical evidence of complications following injury to this vessel. The present paper describes the embryology in relation to this specific aspect and reviews the literature on the persistent stapedial artery, emphasizing the papers dealing with injury to this vessel. In addition, we report 4 cases of persistent stapedial artery from the files of almost 20,000 patients in whom tympanotomy was performed. From all these data we conclude that injury to this artery or even complete section probably does not cause major, if any, postoperative sequelae, and that consequently, middle ear surgery is not necessarily hindered by the presence of this vessel.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arteries / abnormalities
  • Arteries / injuries
  • Carotid Artery, External / embryology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholesteatoma / surgery
  • Ear Diseases / surgery
  • Ear, Middle / blood supply*
  • Ear, Middle / surgery*
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / surgery
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications
  • Male
  • Stapes / blood supply