Kiesselbach Plexus

What Is It, Location, Function, and More

Author: Jessica Rivas

Editors: Ahaana Singh, Lisa Miklush, PhD, RN, CNS

Illustrator: Jillian Dunbar


What is the Kiesselbach plexus?

The Kiesselbach plexus is a vascular network formed by five arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the nasal septum, which refers to the wall separating the right and left sides of the nose. These arteries anastomose, which means they connect with each other to form the plexus or vascular network. The Kiesselbach plexus supplies blood to the anterior inferior (lower front) quadrant of the nasal septum. This area is also commonly known as the Little’s area, Kiesselbach’s area, or Kiesselbach’s triangle. 

The Kiesselbach plexus is named after Wilhelm Kiesselbach (1839-1902), a german otolaryngologist. It is a common site of nosebleeds (e.g. epistaxis) in both children and adults.

Where is the Kiesselbach plexus?

The kiesselbach plexus is located in the entrance of the nasal cavity. There are five arteries that form the Kiesselbach plexus: the sphenopalatine artery, which branches from the maxillary artery originating behind the jawbone; the anterior ethmoidal artery, which branches from the ophthalmic artery behind the eye; the posterior ethmoidal artery, which also branches from the ophthalmic artery; the septal branch of the superior labial artery, which is a branch of the facial artery supplying blood to all of the superficial features of the face; and finally, the greater palatine artery, which is a terminal branch of the maxillary artery.

The Kiesselbach plexus receives its arterial blood supply from the external carotid artery (supplying the sphenopalatine, superior labial arteries, and greater palatine) and the internal carotid artery (supplying the anterior and posterior ethmoidal arteries). The blood in this area is then drained by the facial vein, ophthalmic veins, and pterygoid plexus.

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What is the function of the Kiesselbach plexus?

The Kiesselbach plexus supplies the nose with a relatively large quantity of blood in order to adjust the temperature of air entering the body. As air enters the body through the nose, the arteries of the Kiesselbach plexus transfer heat from the blood into the passing air. It is important for this air to be heated in order for effective gas exchange once the air reaches the lungs. 

Because of its large supply of blood, the Kiesselbach plexus is the most common site of nasal bleedings (epistaxis).

What are the most important facts to know about Kiesselbach plexus?

The Kiesselbach plexus is located in the nasal cavity, specifically in the anterior inferior quadrant of the nasal septum where several arteries anastomose to form the plexus, or vascular network. Its main function is to adjust the temperature of the air inhaled through the nose, via heat exchange between the air and the arteries. Because of its large supply of blood, the Kiesselbach plexus is the most common site of nose bleeds.

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Related links

Clinical Reasoning: Pediatric ear, nose, and throat conditions
High Yield: Nasal, oral, and pharyngeal diseases

Resources for research and reference

Crumbie, L. (2020). Kiesselbach’s Plexus. In Kenhub. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/kiesselbachs-plexus

Doyle, D. E. (1986). Anterior epistaxis: a new nasal tampon for fast, effective control. Laryngoscope, 96(3): 279-281. DOI: 10.1288/00005537-198603000-00008

Fatakia, A., Winters, R., & Amedee, R. G. (2010). Epistaxis: A Common Problem. The Ochsner Journal, 10(3): 176–178. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096213/

Tabassom, A. & Cho, J. J. (2020). Epistaxis. In StatPearls. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK435997/