Anatomy word of the month: Carotid

November 1, 2012 —

OBrien_checks_his_pulseFeel that pulse in the side of your neck, the one the paramedics on TV shows reach for to check if someone’s heart has stopped? The carotid arteries are the major blood supply to the head. Specifically, branches called internal carotids, one on each side of your neck, are the major blood supply to the brain. In ancient times people discovered that animals could be “put to sleep”, rendered unconscious, by pressing on both of these vessels. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the Greek word for these arteries means “to stupefy or make sleepy”.


Dr. Dyche was born in New Jersey and trained at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center before coming to Des Moines in 1976. Over 30 plus years he has taught gross anatomy, embryology and neuroanatomy. He also served in administration as associate dean for basic sciences, dean of the College of Health Sciences, and acting director of the PA program. He was one of the founding instructors of CPR and ACLS at a time when few medical schools offered this training. He retired to Oregon in 2008, then returned to DMU in 2009. Did he miss the tornadoes, the below zero wind chills or the cadavers?