freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger What’s in a nose? | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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You know how when two drunks get into a fight in a movie or TV programme, then one of them punches the other in the nose and suddenly there’s blood gushing everywhere? Well I’ve been lucky enough never to have been punched in the face, so I always thought the film/programme makers were indulging in a little dramatic licence. Lots of blood = higher viewing figures, right?

But then I had the opportunity to look into the anatomy of the nose for a piece on nosebleeds. Turns out there’s a whole mess of blood vessels in the nose. Specifically, blood is supplied to the nasal cavity by the internal and external carotid systems, with the anterior and posterior ethmoidal arteries and the sphenopalatine arteries carrying the majority of blood to the nasal tissues.

In the anterior nasal cavity (the front part of the inside of your nose), the anteroinferior nasal septum – the bottom of the wall that divides your nasal cavity into two sides – houses an area chock full of blood vessels, called Kiesselbach’s plexus (also called Little’s area). Named after Wilhelm Kiesselbach, a German otolaryngologist born in 1838, this is apparently where the majority of nosebleeds originate.

Kiesselbach’s plexus is where the main arteries feeding blood to the nose converge. The anterior ethmoidal and posterior ethmoidal arteries are branches of the opthalmic artery, whereas the sphenopalatine and greater palatine arteries are branches of the maxillary artery. The other artery that makes up Kiesselbach’s plexus is the septal branch of the superior labial artery, which is a branch of the facial artery.

Meanwhile, the posterior nasal cavity includes an area called Woodruff’s plexus.  This is located over a spongy bone called the posterior middle turbinate and, like Kiesselbach’s plexus, is rich in blood vessels, mostly those connecting branches of the internal maxillary artery.

And that’s just the potted version.

So next time I see some actor get a ridiculously bloody nose, I won’t roll my eyes in disbelief. I’ll remember: oh yeah, right, Kiesselbach’s plexus.