The carotid canal is the passage way in the temporal bone through which the internal carotid artery enters the middle cranial fossa from the neck. The canal starts on the inferior surface of the temporal bone at the external opening of the carotid canal (also referred to as the carotid foramen). The canal ascends at first vertically, and then, making a bend, runs horizontally forward and medialward. The canal's internal opening is the foramen lacerum.
It transmits into the cranium, the internal carotid artery, and the carotid plexus of nerves.
Sympathetics to the head from the superior cervical ganglion also pass through the carotid canal.