Introduction: In the last decades the incidence of central nervous complications and death has decreased, especially in endarterectomy and carotid body tumor. Contrastingly, the incidence of cranial nerve following is a problem that remains high and little changed, and the hypoglossal nerve dysfunction is the most frequent. Aim: The aim of this study was to establish the anatomical relation between the carotid artery bifurcation and hypoglossal nerve. Study design: experimental. Material and method: Carotid artery and hypoglossal nerve dissections were carried out in 38 fresh corpses. All the individuals were placed in standard position and the dissections were performed with surgical technique. The measurements were done in centimeters and millimeters from the dissected carotid bifurcation to the XII nerve in the cervical area. Results: Twenty-six individuals were male and 12 female. The majority were whites, 30, and 8 were non-whites. The distance between hypoglossal nerve and carotid artery bifurcation ranged from 0.5 cm to 4.3 cm, with mean of 2.1 cm, median 2.0 cm and standard deviation of 0.63 cm. Neck length, age, gender and race were related with the measurements and failed to show significant statistic correlation (a > 0.05). Conclusion: In this sample there is a great anatomic variation of the distance between hypoglossal nerve and carotid artery bifurcation and there was no statistical difference concerning age, gender, race and neck length. A better understanding of the anatomic course of this nerve and its variation in relation to carotid artery bifurcation, are relevant to prevent hypoglossal nerve lesions in the carotid artery surgery.
hypoglossal nerve; carotid artery; anatomy; endarterectomy; carotid body tumor