Middle Cerebral Artery (MCA)

The middle cerebral artery brings oxygen and nutrients to parts of the brain

Brain haemorrhage, 3D angiogram

The middle cerebral artery (also known as MCA) is the main blood vessel that brings oxygen and nutrients to the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes, among other important areas of the brain.

At the base of the brain, the carotid and vertebrobasilar arteries form a circle of communicating arteries known as the Circle of Willis. From this circle, other arteries — the anterior cerebral artery (ACA), the middle cerebral artery, the posterior cerebral artery (PCA) — arise and travel to all parts of the brain.

The middle cerebral artery is one of the most widely recognized large vessel strokes. A stroke is brain damage that occurs as a result of an interruption in blood supply to a portion of the brain. This happens because of either blockage of a blood vessel or bleeding of a blood vessel in the brain. A stroke is usually labeled either by the injured part of the brain or by the blocked blood vessel. 

Strokes that affect the middle cerebral artery on one side of the body can cause weakness (hemiplegia) and numbness in the face, and/or arm and/or leg in the side of the body opposite the stroke.

Structures supplied by the MCA include Broca's area, the expressive speech area; Wernicke's area, the receptive speech area; the motor cortex, which controls movement of the right head, neck,
trunk and arm; and sensory cortex, which controls sensation from right head, neck, trunk, and arm.

Because a middle cerebral artery stroke is usually a large stroke, long-term recovery and rehabilitation may take months or even years.

However, even very serious strokes can result in good recovery.

Recovery From a Middle Cerebral Artery Stroke

Each person suffering from a middle cerebral artery stroke has a different recovery time and need for long-term care. Some people will keep improving weeks, months or years after a stroke in terms of moving, thinking and talking.

After a stroke, some people will have trouble finding a word or being able to speak more than one word or phrase at a time. Or, they may not be able to speak at all, which is called aphasia. It can take up to two years to fully recover speech and not everyone will fully recover.

View Article Sources
  • References:
    The Internet Stroke Center. Blood Vessels of the Brain. http://www.strokecenter.org/professionals/brain-anatomy/blood-vessels-of-the-brain/
  • Radiopaedia.org. Middle Cerebral Artery. http://radiopaedia.org/articles/middle-cerebral-artery
  • University of British Columbia. Middle Cerebral Artery. http://www.neuroanatomy.ca/stroke_model/mca_info.html

    U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. "Recovering After a Stroke." https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007419.htm