The inferior thyroid artery is an artery located near the thyroid gland in the human body. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck, just above the center of the collarbone. Among other functions, the thyroid determines how quickly the body produces or makes energy, controls the body's sensitivity or response to hormones, and creates proteins.
The thyroid artery moves upward through the body. When the thyroid artery reaches the thyroid, it divides and forms two branches. The two branches remain hidden and partially protected by other tissue in the neck and surrounding areas. The artery supplies blood to the superior (upper) thyroid and other parts of the thyroid gland. The artery is located near the recurrent laryngeal nerve, which controls the larynx, otherwise known as the voice box.
The artery is highly susceptible to damage, especially during surgery involving the cutting and removal of part of the thyroid gland, as might be done to treat a patient with an overactive thyroid gland. The inferior thyroid artery is also susceptible to damage when the neck or spine is injured.