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Anat. Histol. Embryol. 36, 241–249 (2007) doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0264.2006.00733.

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ISSN 0340–2096

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Agricultural University of Wrocław, Wrocław, Poland

Topography and Arterial Supply of the Thyroid and the Parathyroid Glands in
Selected Species of Falconiformes
T. Radek1 and T. Piasecki2*
Addresses of authors: 1Department of Anatomy and Histology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Agricultural University of
Wrocław, ul. Ko_zuchowska 1-3, 51-631 Wrocław, Poland; 2Department of Epizootiology and Veterinary Administration with
Clinic of Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Agricultural University of Wrocław, pl. Grunwaldzki 45, 50-366
Wrocław, Poland; *Corresponding author: e-mail: piatom@op.pl
With 8 figures and 4 tables Received November 2005; accepted for publication June 2006

Summary The evident interspecies differences in either the origins or


Birds of two suborders, Accipitres and Falcones were the the numbers of thyroid and parathyroid arteries reflect the
subjects of the study. The thyroids were always located species-specific changeability of four vessels branching from
asymmetrically. In Accipitridae the larger left gland was usu- the common carotid: the oesophagotracheobronchial and the
ally situated significantly more cranially than the right one. In ascending oesophageal artery, the comes nervi vagi and the
common kestrel, the size of bilateral thyroids was similar while vertebral trunk (Bhaduri et al., 1957; Raether, 1964; Cotofan
their mutual relationships were individually variable. The et al., 1970; Baumel, 1993).
location of the parathyroid glands in common kestrel was The purpose of the study was the morphological and
relatively constant. Seven topographical patterns of the loca- topographical analysis of glandular arteries and their parent
tion of the parathyroid gland were noted in Accipitridae. In vessels in common buzzard, rough-legged buzzard, western
birds of both the suborders, the thyroid might be supplied by marsh harrier, sparrow hawk and common kestrel. The litera-
three (groups of) arteries: the cranial thyroid, the caudal thy- ture still lacks the information on the morphology of the arterial
roid and the middle thyroid arteries. The aforementioned system and the endocrine glands in Falconiformes. Accordingly,
vessels were derived from the common carotid and the oe- the results described in the present paper might improve the
sophagotracheobronchial artery. In common kestrel, the thy- knowledge on this branch of the comparative avian anatomy.
roid vessels might also branch from the ascending oesophageal
artery, which passes along the thyroid, while in common
Materials and Methods
buzzard and other Accipitridae – from the common trunk of
the comes nervi vagi and the ascending oesophageal artery. Twenty-eight specimens of birds belonging to the two species
The parathyroid glands were supplied by one to three para- (Mielczarek and Cichocki, 1999) were subjected to compar-
thyroid arteries. The vessels for the cranial parathyroid gland ative, descriptive and morphometric study: (i) common
mostly originated from the caudal thyroid artery, while for the buzzard (Buteo buteo – Accipitres, Accipitridae family, six
caudal one – from the oesophagotracheobronchial artery. The females and five males), and (ii) common kestrel (Falco
average number of thyroid and parathyroid arteries in com- tinnunculus – Falcones, Falconinae family, seven females and
mon buzzard was significantly higher than those in common 10 males).
kestrel. Additionally, descriptive studies were performed in three
single representatives of other species from the Accipitridae
family: rough-legged buzzard (Buteo logopus, one male),
Introduction western marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus, one female) and
The bilateral avian thyroid is situated right inside the sparrow hawk (Accipiter nisus, one female).
thoracic inlet or slightly cranially to it. It is placed on the All the specimens obtained between 1993 and 1998 were
surfaces of the common carotid and the jugular vein, usually from the Wrocław Zoological Garden. The arterial system of
rostrally to the syrinx and laterally to the oesophagus and birds was accessed via the left heart ventricle or through the
the trachea (Raether, 1964; Cotofan et al., 1970; Feder, brachial artery and injected with colored latex (latex injection
1971; Epple, 1993; Orosz, 1997). The mutual relationships kit ZPK 580; Griffing & George, West Sussex, UK).
between the cranial (IV) and the caudal (III) parathyroid Subsequently, the specimens were fixed in 10% formaldehyde
glands and their location against the surrounding organs are and dissected under 16–25· magnification using a Technival 2
variable and species-specific (Abdel-Magied and King, 1978; microscope. The skin and the bilateral sternotracheal muscles
Hess et al., 1990; Epple, 1993; Orosz, 1997). Moreover, they were removed to expose the right and the left glands, the
exhibit, higher than the thyroid, individual intra-species topography of which was described in relation to the common
changeability (Abdel-Magied and King, 1978). Nevertheless, carotid, the jugular vein, the trachea and the oesophagus.
the avian parathyroid glands are mostly situated next to Moreover, the topography of the arteries derived from the
each other on the surface of the jugular vein, among the common carotid was established (Fig. 1).
trachea and the ultimobranchial glands (Epple, 1993; Orosz, Subsequently, the measurements of the thyroid and the
1997). parathyroid glands were taken. Moreover, the distance

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242 Radek and Piasecki

measurements of the left thyroid in common buzzard


(5.69 · 3.52 mm ± 0.48 · 0.41 mm) were significantly higher
than of the right one (4.98 · 3.23 mm ± 0.53 · 0.28 mm). In
common kestrel, in turn, the sizes of the bilateral thyroids were
not significantly different (3.24 · 2.29 ± 0.18 · 0.20 mm and
3.26 · 1.86 ± 0.23 · 0.15 mm for left and right gland,
respectively).
The bilateral thyroids were situated asymmetrically in all the
birds studied. In common buzzard, as well as in other
Accipitridae, the left gland was placed more cranially than
the right one (directional asymmetry, the coefficient of
asymmetry in common buzzard ¼ 0.98; Fig. 2). Accordingly,
the mean distance between the caudal extremity of the thyroid
and the bifurcation of the brachiocephalic trunk was signifi-
cantly different when compared bilaterally (9.34 ± 0.90 mm
and 6.86 ± 0.75 mm for left and right side, respectively).
Fig. 1. Diagram illustrating the measurements taken bilaterally in all Analogical differences were found to be insignificant in
the specimens studied. Example of the right glands in common kestrel common kestrel (4.71 ± 0.72 mm and 4.55 ± 0.54 mm for
(A) and in common buzzard (B): a – brachiocephalic trunk, b – sub- left and right side, respectively). The bilateral asymmetry in
clavian artery, c and c* – common carotid and internal carotid,
respectively, d – oesophagotracheobronchial artery, e – ascending gland location appeared relatively weak and fluctuating (the
oesophageal artery, f – vertebral trunk, g – comes nervi vagi, nv – vagal coefficient of asymmetry ¼ 0.47; Fig. 2). A more cranial
nerve and its distal ganglion, pth – parathyroid glands, th – thyroid, location of the left thyroid was observed in seven birds, while
vj – jugular vein; 1 – length of the thyroid, 2 – width of the thyroid, in another five specimens the right thyroid was situated more
3 – length of both the parathyroid glands, 4 – width of the parathyroid
glands, 5 – distance between the bifurcation of the brachiocephalic
cranially (Fig. 3). In the remaining kestrels the bilateral
trunk and the caudal extremity of the thyroid. thyroids were located at a similar level.
Interspecific and individual variability of the unilateral and
the bilateral parathyroid gland topography in relation to the
between the caudal extremity of the thyroid and the bifurca- thyroid, the common carotid and the jugular vein is illustrated
tion of the brachiocephalic trunk into the common carotid and in Fig. 4. The unilateral parathyroid glands were usually
the subclavian artery was determined (Fig. 1). Morphometry placed next to each other by the caudal end of the thyroid or
was carried out with the aid of an electronic scaled calliper slightly more caudally. The separate location of each gland
(mm)2). Mean values from three independent measurements was noted infrequently (Figs 4 and 5). The size of the left
were calculated for each parameter to ensure the reproduci- glands was slightly higher than that of the right ones in all the
bility of results obtained. species studied (2.86 · 1.69 mm and 2.52 · 1.42 mm for the
Empiric or mean measurement values enabled the drawing left and the right parathyroid glands of common buzzard and
of the schemes of the species-specific topographical relations 1.62 · 0.84 and 1.36 · 0.61 mm for the left and the right
among the thyroid, the parathyroid glands, the glandular parathyroid glands of common kestrel, respectively).
arteries and their parent vessels in Falconiformes (Fig. 2). The In the thyroid and parathyroid region, both the common
bilateral asymmetry of the thyroid location in common kestrel carotids gave rise directly or indirectly to four large vessels: the
and common buzzard was expressed with the Van Valen (1962) oesophagotracheobronchial, the comes nervi vagi, the ascend-
coefficient figured out from 1 ) R2 formula. ing oesophageal arteries and the vertebral trunk. In common
The following criteria were considered in the course of kestrel and in common buzzard some topographical relation-
morphological and topographical analysis of the thyroid and ships among the aforementioned vessels and the glands studied
the parathyroid arteries: (i) origin, number and ramification were found to be species-specific (Fig. 2). They are presented in
pattern, (ii) topography before entering the glands, described Fig. 2, in addition to the patterns observed in the single
in relation to the surrounding organs, and (iii) the region in representatives of other species analysed. The individual
which they drained the glandular parenchyma. variability of thyroid and parathyroid vasculature noted in
All the measurement results were subjected to statistical common buzzard and common kestrel is illustrated in Fig. 6.
analysis. The statistical significance of differences in bilateral The oesophagotracheobronchial artery branched from the
measurements taken in common buzzard or in common kestrel medial (the right one) or the dorsolateral (the left one) side of
was tested using Student’s t-test, whereas the importance of the respective common carotid, caudally to the thyroid and the
bilateral or inter-species differences in the average number of parathyroid glands or at the level of the latter. It usually began
thyroid or parathyroid arteries observed was verified with the as an individual vessel in common buzzard and other
chi-squared test (P £ 0.05 for both the tests employed). Accipitridae (Figs 2, 5, 6 and 7). In most of the kestrels
however, it left the carotid as a common trunk with the
ascending oesophageal artery (Figs 2 and 3). It passed caudally
Results in all the specimens studied to supply the bronchus and the
In birds of both the suborders, the thyroid was located preventricular part of the oesophagus with its terminal
inside the cranial thoracic inlet, cranially from the syrinx. ramifications.
Its medial surface adjoined the common carotid and the In its initial course, the oesophagotracheobronchial artery
jugular vein. Moreover, the right gland adhered to the gave rise to the branches for the trachea, the oesophagus and
oesophagus, whereas the left one to the trachea. Mean the syrinx (the single one in Accipitridae – Figs 2 and 7, one to

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Arteries of Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands 243

Fig. 2. Ventral view of thyroid and the parathyroid glands against the background of the arterial pattern in A – common kestrel (most common
pattern), B – common buzzard (most common pattern), C – rough-legged buzzard, D – western marsh harrier and E – sparrow-hawk:
a – brachiocephalic trunk, b – subclavian artery, c – common carotid and internal carotid, d – oesophagotracheobronchial artery, d¢ – tracheal
and syringical branches, e – ascending oesophageal artery, e¢ – oesophageal branches, f – vertebral trunk, g – comes nervi vagi, g* – common
trunk of the comes nervi vagi and the ascending oesophageal artery, i – suprascapular artery, j – parathyroid artery, k – caudal thyroid artery,
l – middle thyroid artery, m – cranial thyroid artery.

three branches in common kestrel – Figs 3 and 8). The thyroid common kestrel, the bilateral comes nervi vagi left the
(Table 1) and the parathyroid arteries, as well as the vessels for vertebral trunk or the common carotid at the level of the
the vagal nerve and its distal ganglion, the carotid body and cranial extremity of the thyroid. The further course and the
the ultimobranchial glands ramified laterally from the afore- ramifications of that vessel are illustrated in Fig. 2 (more
mentioned branches or originated directly from the oesoph- frequent pattern) or in Fig. 6 (individual variants). The
agotracheobronchial artery. ascending oesophageal artery usually ramified from the
The origin and course of the comes nervi vagi and the oesophagotracheobronchial artery, caudally to the thyroid or
ascending oesophageal artery were species-specific (Fig. 2). In at the level of its caudal part (Figs 4 and 6). It passed along the

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244 Radek and Piasecki

A middle and the cranial third of the neck, anastomosed with the
right descending oesophageal artery (Fig. 7).
The bilateral thyroids might be supplied by three types of
thyroid arteries of various origin (Tables 1 and 2). There was
at least one cranial thyroid artery on each side in common
buzzard (Table 2). It originated from the common trunk of the
comes nervi vagi and the ascending oesophageal artery. The
left cranial thyroid artery ramified above the bifurcation of the
aforementioned trunk and might originate either from the
comes nervi vagi or from the ascending oesophageal artery
(Fig. 5). The right cranial thyroid artery in turn might be
derived either from the common trunk described or from one
of its oesophageal branches (Table 1, Fig. 7). Each of the
multiple cranial thyroid arteries originated from different of
the latter branches (Fig. 2).
The cranial thyroid artery (arteries) was demonstrated in 13
B specimens of common kestrel, among them in nine specimens
bilaterally (Table 2). It usually originated from the ascending
oesophageal artery (Table 1; Figs 2 and 3).
The origin of the cranial thyroid artery (arteries) was found
at the level of the cranial extremity of the thyroid (short vessel)
or more cranially (long vessel). In the latter case, before
reaching the gland surface, the cranial thyroid artery passed
caudally along the common carotid. The cranial thyroid artery
gave rise to the thymic branch (Fig. 8) and on the right side in
western marsh harrier, also the oesophageal one (Fig. 2). On
the surface of the thyroid the cranial thyroid artery ramified
into minute, medial and lateral branches, which drained the
cranial, and in some specimens also the middle one-third of the
gland.
In all the birds studied, there was at least one bilateral
Fig. 3. A – Ventral view of the thoracic inlet in common kestrel caudal thyroid artery (Table 2, Fig. 2). In common kestrel, the
(male), B – right thyroid and parathyroid region (most commonly
vessel described originated mostly from the ascending oeso-
observed arterial pattern): 1 – thyroid (the lateral surface of the left one
and the medial surface of the right one), 2 – cranial parathyroid glands, phageal artery (Figs 3 and 8) and, more rarely, from the
2¢ – caudal parathyroid gland, 3 – oesophagus, 4 – trachea, 4¢ – syrinx, oesophagotracheobronchial artery (Table 1). The caudal thy-
5, 5¢ – vagal nerve and its distal ganglion, 6 – brachial plexus, roid artery was the only arterial supply for the left and right
a – brachiocephalic trunk, b – subclavian artery, c – common thyroid in five and two birds, respectively. In such cases the
carotid, c¢ – internal carotid, d – oesophagotracheobronchial artery,
d¢ – tracheal and syringical branches, e – ascending oesophageal artery, caudal thyroid artery passed along the gland, giving rise to the
e¢ – oesophageal branches, f – vertebral trunk, g – comes nervi vagi, caudal, the middle and the cranial thyroid branches.
i – suprascapular artery, j – parathyroid artery, k – caudal thyroid In common buzzard, the caudal thyroid artery mostly
artery, l – middle thyroid artery, m – cranial thyroid artery. branched from the common trunk of the comes nervi vagi and
the ascending oesophageal artery. The right vessel might either
originate from the oesophagotracheobronchial artery, whereas
medial surface of the thyroid sending the thyroid arteries and, the left one, directly from the common carotid.
directly or indirectly, the parathyroid arteries (Fig. 3). Finally, In both the species analysed, the caudal thyroid artery
it anastomosed with the descending oesophageal artery in the (arteries), originating from the oesophagotracheobronchial
middle of the neck. artery or from the common carotid and in two buzzards – also
In common buzzard and other Accipitridae the comes nervi from the left common trunk of the comes nervi vagi and the
vagi and the ascending oesophageal artery originated bilater- ascending oesophageal arteries (Fig. 5), was Ôthe long vesselÕ.
ally as a common trunk leaving mostly the common carotid Its origin was found caudally to the thyroid. In its course to
(Figs 2 and 6) or less frequently, the oesophagotracheobron- the thyroid, the caudal thyroid artery supplied the parathyroid
chial artery (Fig. 6). The topography of the initial part of the glands, the carotid body and the ultimobranchial glands
trunk described was similar to that of the ascending oesopha- (Figs 3, 5, 7 and 8). The Ôshort arteriesÕ in turn, originated from
geal artery in common kestrel (with the exception of western the ascending oesophageal artery in common kestrel or from
marsh harrier; Fig. 2) and similarly the vessel gave rise to the the common trunk of the comes nervi vagi and the ascending
thyroid and the parathyroid arteries (Figs 2, 5 and 7). The oesophageal artery in common buzzard (Figs 3, 5 and 7). At
bifurcation of the common trunk was found cranially to the the level of the caudal extremity of the thyroid, the caudal
thyroid. The left trunk gave rise to the relatively small, single thyroid artery gave rise to the parathyroid branch(es), which
ascending oesophageal artery, which in the middle of the neck passed caudally, and the cranial thyroid branch. Subsequently,
anastomosed with the descending oesophageal artery. The the caudal thyroid artery (arteries) ramified into the minute
right trunk in turn gave rise to a number of anastomosing subcapsular branches, which drained the caudal and the
oesophageal branches, one of which, branching between the middle two-thirds of the thyroid. The multiple caudal thyroid

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Arteries of Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands 245

Fig. 4. Topographical patterns (A–H) of parathyroid glands in individual species.

arteries originated, each separately, from the same or from


various of the aforementioned larger vessels.
At least one middle thyroid artery was observed bilaterally
in eight common buzzards and in five common kestrels. It was
however absent or present unilateral only in the remaining
specimens (Table 2). Instead of the single one, the middle
thyroid artery might appear as a double vessel and in common
buzzard even as a triple vessel. The artery described belonged
to the Ôshort vesselsÕ. It originated at the level of one-third of
the thyroid, from the ascending oesophageal artery in common
kestrel, or from the common trunk of the comes nervi vagi and
the ascending oesophageal artery in common buzzard, and
entered the glandular parenchyme nearly directly (Table 1,
Figs 2, 3, 5 and 7). The origins, the courses and the parental
vessels for the arteries of rough-legged buzzard, sparrow hawk
Fig. 5. Left thyroid and parathyroid region in common buzzard (fe- and western marsh harrier are presented in Fig. 2.
male): 1 – thyroid (lateral surface), 2 – cranial parathyroid gland The bilateral thyroids might be supplied by one to three
(medial surface), 2¢ – caudal parathyroid gland (lateral surface),
3 – oesophagus, 4 – trachea, 5, 5¢ – vagal nerve and its distal ganglion, single or multiple thyroid arteries (Table 1, Fig. 2). In the
vj – jugular vein, c – common carotid, d, d* – oesophagotracheo- first variant, observed in six common kestrels (in one bird –
bronchial artery and its tracheal branch, e – ascending oesophageal bilaterally) and on the right side in western marsh harrier, the
artery, f – vertebral trunk, g, g* – comes nervi vagi and the common gland was supplied by the caudal thyroid artery (arteries)
trunk of the comes nervi vagi and the ascending oesophageal artery,
(Fig. 2). In another one the thyroid was drained by two types
h – cervical ascending cutaneous artery, i – suprascapular artery,
j – parathyroid artery, k – caudal thyroid artery, l – middle thyroid of vessels: the cranial and the caudal thyroid artery (arteries)
artery, m – cranial thyroid artery. or the latter accompanied by the middle thyroid artery

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246 Radek and Piasecki

Fig. 6. Individual variations of main arteries in left and right thyroid and parathyroid region of common kestrel and common buzzard:
a – brachiocephalic trunk, b – subclavian artery, c – common carotid, d – oesophagotracheobronchial artery, d¢ – tracheosyringical branch,
e – ascending oesophageal artery, e¢ – oesophageal branches, e* – descending oesophageal artery, f – vertebral trunk, g, g* – comes nervi vagi and
the common trunk of the comes nervi vagi and the ascending oesophageal artery, h – cervical ascending cutaneous artery, i – suprascapular artery.

(arteries). The situation described occurred predominantly in arteries in common buzzard and common kestrel was
common kestrel (Fig. 8). In common buzzard in turn the individual-specific, their average counts on both sides were
thyroid was mostly supplied by all three types of the thyroid significantly lower in the latter species (P £ 0.05). The
arteries (Figs 5 and 7). Although the number of the thyroid bilateral differences in number of the vessels studied were

Table 1. Number of birds in which the thyroid arteries originated from the particular parental vessels

Right side Left side

Arteries Acc Otb Cnv+Oea Cnv Oea (rea) Acc Otb Cnv+Oea Cnv Oea (rea)

Buteo buteo
Cranial thyroid 0 0 4 4 5 0 0 6 5 6
Caudal thyroid 1 5 8 0 0 4 0 10 0 1
Middle thyroid 0 0 8 0 1 0 0 5 0 5
Falco tinnunculus
Cranial thyroid 1 0 0 0 11 0 0 0 1 9
Caudal thyroid 0 9 0 0 10 3 8 0 1 15
Middle thyroid 0 0 0 0 11 0 0 0 0 6

Acc – common carotid, Otb – oesophagotracheobronchial artery, Cnv+Oea – common trunk of the comes nervi vagi and the ascending
oesophageal artery, Cnv – comes nervi vagi, Oea – ascending oesophageal artery (or rea – the right oesophageal branch).

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Arteries of Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands 247

A Table 2. Number of birds with the single or multiple cranial, caudal


and middle thyroid arteries

Right arteries Left arteries

Common Common Common Common


buzzard kestrel buzzard kestrel
(n ¼ 11) (n ¼ 17) (n ¼ 11) (n ¼ 17)

Cranial thyroid artery


One artery 3 7 2 9
Two arteries 4 3 5 1
Three arteries 2 2 2 0
Four arteries 0 0 2 0
Five arteries 1 0 0 0
Six arteries 1 0 0 0
B Absent 0 5 0 7
Caudal thyroid artery
One artery 6 14 5 6
Two arteries 4 3 4 10
Three arteries 1 0 1 1
Four arteries 0 0 1 0
Middle thyroid artery
One artery 5 7 3 4
Two arteries 0 4 1 2
Three arteries 3 0 5 0
Absent 3 6 2 11

Fig. 7. A – lateral view of right cervical area in common buzzard


(female), B – right thyroid and parathyroid region (most common
arterial pattern): 1 – thyroid, 2 – parathyroid glands, 3 – oesophagus,
4, 4¢ – trachea and syrinx, 5, 5¢ – vagal nerve and its distal ganglion,
6 – brachial plexus, a – brachiocephalic trunk, b – subclavian artery,
c – common carotid, d – oesophagotracheobronchial artery,
d¢ – tracheosyringical branch, e – ascending oesophageal artery,
e¢ – oesophageal branches, e* – descending oesophageal artery,
f – vertebral trunk, g, g* – comes nervi vagi and the common trunk of
the comes nervi vagi and the ascending oesophageal artery, h – cervical
ascending cutaneous artery, h* – cervical descending cutaneous artery,
i – suprascapular artery, j – parathyroid artery, k – caudal thyroid
artery, l – middle thyroid artery, m – cranial thyroid artery.

however not demonstrated in any of the aforementioned


Fig. 8. Left thyroid and parathyroid region in common kestrel
species (Table 1). (female). One of rare arterial patterns: 1 – thyroid, 2, 2¢ – cranial and
The cranial and the caudal parathyroid glands were usually caudal parathyroid glands, 3 – oesophagus, 4, 4¢ – trachea and syrinx,
supplied by one to two arteries (Fig. 2). In five common 5 – vagal nerve, 6 – brachial plexus, 7 – ultimobranchial gland,
buzzards however (left side ¼ 3, right side ¼ 1, both sides ¼ a – brachiocephalic trunk, b – subclavian artery, c – common carotid
artery, d – oesophagotracheobronchial artery, d¢ – tracheal branch,
1), one or both the parathyroid glands were drained by three to e – ascending oesophageal artery, f – vertebral trunk, g – comes nervi
six vessels (Table 3). vagi, g* – common trunk of the comes nervi vagi and the ascending
Among the parathyroid arteries observed, the vessels sup- oesophageal artery, i – suprascapular artery, k – caudal thyroid artery, l
plying only one gland [the cranial (IV) or the caudal (III) – middle thyroid artery, m – cranial thyroid artery, n – thymic branch.
parathyroid artery] and the common artery for both the glands
of one side were distinguished. The common parathyroid Finally, the common parathyroid artery might divide into the
artery was demonstrated on the left side in 21 specimens (23 branches for the cranial (IV) and the caudal (III) parathyroid
vessels) and on the right side – in 18 birds (19 vessels). The before reaching their surface (in four and three birds on left
three types of course and ramification were observed for the and right side, respectively). Moreover, in two common
common parathyroid artery. The aforementioned vessel kestrels the parathyroid glands of one side were supplied by
mostly reached the unilateral glands at their contact point the double common parathyroid arteries (in one bird bilater-
(11 vessels in 11 birds and nine vessels in eight birds on left and ally and on the left side in another). On the left side they both
right side, respectively). In the other variant, however, the ramified as described for the second variant, whereas on the
common artery drained one of the glands sending its terminal right, one of the arteries followed the first variant, while
branches to another (eight vessels in six birds, and seven another, the third pattern. The parathyroid arteries usually
vessels in seven birds on left and right side, respectively). originated from the caudal thyroid or the oesophagotracheo-

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248 Radek and Piasecki

Table 3. Number of the parathyroid arteries supplying the single (III types was previously described in hen, duck and goose
or IV) or both the parathyroid glands (III and IV) on left and right side (Raether, 1964; Cotofan et al., 1970) and, more recently, in
in common buzzard and in common kestrel
budgerigar (Radek and Piasecki, 2004). The average number
Right Left of the thyroid arteries on each side was significantly higher in
common buzzard when compared with common kestrel.
Glands Buzzard Kestrel Buzzard Kestrel According to Komárek et al. (1982) and Baumel (1993) the
thyroid is supplied by one artery in most birds. Such a vascular
Cranial parathyroid (IV)
One artery 7 13 5 14 model was demonstrated in Columba (Bhaduri et al., 1957) as
Two arteries 2 4 4 3 well as in Rhea, Spheniscus, Gavia, Podiceps, Cygnus, Fulica,
Three arteries 0 0 1 0 Apus, Trogon and Corvus (Baumel, 1993). The results of
Four arteries 2 0 0 0 present study in Falconiformes and our previous investigations
Five arteries 0 0 1 0
Total 11 17 11 17
in budgerigar (Radek and Piasecki, 2004) suggest that the
Caudal parathyroid (III) single thyroid artery (or the group of multiple arteries)
One artery 4 13 4 14 observed in some birds corresponds to the caudal thyroid
Two arteries 6 4 3 3 artery. The latter was found to be the most stable, considering
Three arteries 0 0 3 0 either the occurrence or the area it supplied: the ultimobran-
Four arteries 1 0 0 0
Six arteries 0 0 1 0 chial glands, the parathyroid glands, the oesophagus and the
Total 11 17 11 17 distal ganglion of vagal nerve (Raether, 1964; Cotofan et al.,
1970; Abdel-Magied and King, 1978; Baumel, 1993; Radek
and Piasecki, 2004). In the present study, the arterial model
bronchial artery (Figs 3, 5 and 7). Hardly ever they ramified with the one thyroid artery was demonstrated in six common
from the other arteries, like from the common trunk of the kestrels (in three of them, bilaterally) and in one western marsh
comes nervi vagi and the ascending oesophageal artery in harrier. According to Baumel (1993), either the single thyroid
common buzzard (Figs 5 and 7). The average number of the artery or the caudal thyroid artery originates directly from the
parathyroid arteries in common buzzard was significantly common carotid. That regularity was however not proved in
higher than in common kestrel (P £ 0.05). our study. The thyroid was supplied by two or three arteries
(or their groups) in the birds studied. The dual arterial supply
of the thyroid has been described in some Columbidae,
Discussion galliformes, seagulls and flamingos, thus far (Baumel, 1993),
Seventeen common kestrels and 11 common buzzards were whereas the gland drained by the cranial, the caudal and the
subjected to the study of the topography and the vasculature middle thyroid arteries is characteristic for Anatidae, Gallus
of the thyroid and the parathyroid glands. Comparative and Columba (Cotofan et al., 1970; Baumel, 1993). The
analysis was extended to the results obtained in other three common buzzard, and plausibly also the rough-legged buz-
specimens of Accipitridae – one rough-legged buzzard, one zard, might be enumerated to the latter group on the basis of
western marsh harrier and one sparrow hawk, on the basis of our study. High individual variability in the arterial model of
their similarity to common buzzard in question of the thyroid the thyroid vasculature and the significant asymmetry of
location and in topographical patterns of large vessels origin- relevant vessels was in turn demonstrated in common kestrel.
ating from the bilateral common carotids. It is very likely that the discrepancies in question of the
The bilateral thyroids were located asymmetrically in the thyroid artery models and their origin result exactly from the
Falconiformes studied, as described in house birds (Raether, individual variability in specific avian species. The aforemen-
1964; Breit et al., 1998). The glands on the left side in tioned differences however might easily reflect the diverse
Accipitridae were usually larger and situated more cranially interpretation of the results obtained by various authors. For
than those on the right. The location of thyroid in accipitrids instance, the cranial thyroid artery in Anatidae was reported to
followed the phenomenological criterion of directional asym- originate either from the ascending oesophageal artery (Coto-
metry. In common kestrel in turn, the mutual relationships of fan et al., 1970) or from the comes nervi vagi (Raether, 1964).
the bilateral thyroids were variable corresponding to fluctu- The study of Cotofan et al. (1970), lacks the data on the
ating asymmetry (Van Valen, 1962; Watała and Markowski, topography of the comes nervi vagi artery, whereas in that of
1999). Raether (1964) the analogous information on the ascending
Either the topography of the bilateral parathyroid glands in oesophageal artery is missing. Consequently, it is hard to
relation to the thyroid or the unilateral mutual relationships comment on the results of both of these authors. Moreover, it
between the cranial and the caudal glands were similar as should be remembered that the comes nervi vagi and the
described in most birds (Raether, 1964; Cotofan et al., 1970; ascending oesophageal artery might branch as a common
Abdel-Magied and King, 1978; Hess et al., 1990). The high trunk in some avian species (Bhaduri et al., 1957; Baumel,
variability in the topography of the aforementioned glands in 1993; Radek and Piasecki, 2004) and it was so in the accipitrids
the accipitrids studied, reflected in the seven variants of the in the present study. The discrepancies also deal with the origin
parathyroid gland location, among them six occurring in of the caudal thyroid artery in domestic hen. According to
common buzzard, is however worthy of attention. The relevant Abdel-Magied and King (1978), the aforementioned vessel
literature lacks the data on such individual variations in the ramifies from the common carotid and, after giving rise to
parathyroid gland topography in other avian species. some branches to the thyroid, continues as the ascending
The thyroid might be supplied by three single or multiple oesophageal artery. Cotofan et al. (1970) however, revealed
thyroid arteries: the cranial, the caudal and the middle ones. that the caudal thyroid artery originates from the ascending
The occurrence of the multiple vessels of the aforementioned oesophageal as one of two or three thyroid-supplying vessels.

 2007 Blackwell Verlag


Arteries of Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands 249

Nevertheless, the results of present study on the separation Feder, F. H., 1971: Zur Topographie und mikroskopischen Anatomie
variants and the number of parathyroid branches in Falconi- der endokrinen Organe beim Wellensittich (Melopsittacus undula-
formes analysed are in general consonant with the relevant tus). Anat. Anz. 128, 338–353.
data for domestic birds (Raether, 1964; Cotofan et al., 1970; Hess, J. B., D. L. Fletcher, R. J. Buhr, and W. M. Britton, 1990:
Localization of chicken parathyroid glands through vital staining.
Abdel-Magied and King, 1978).
Poultry Sci. 69, 133–137.
Komárek, V., L. Malinovský, and L. Lemež, 1982: Anatomie Avium
Domesticarum et Embryologia Galli (M. U. Čihak and P. Popesko,
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 2007 Blackwell Verlag