Pterygopalatine fossa


The pterygopalatine fossa is a challenging topic in anatomy. First of all the name of that fossa and surrounding structures is difficult to remember; the second — fossa is localized deep in the middle of the skull in between 3 bones (maxilla, palatine, and sphenoid), and, finally, pterygoid fossa has six different connections to all main compartments of skull (two canals, two openings, and two fissures).

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Pterygopalatine fossa. Lateral view Pterygomaxillary fissure with terminology comments
Side view of skull demonstrating the lateral entry into the pterygopalatine fossa — the pterygomaxillary fissure.
The list of terms: Fossa pterygopalatina – Pterygopalatine fossa
Fissura pterygomaxillaris – Pterygomaxillary fissure
Processus pterygoideus (ossis sphenoidalis) – Pterygoid process (of sphenoid bone)
Tuber maxillae – Tuber of maxilla

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Inferior and medal communications with pterygopalatine fossa Markup for the bottom view of the pterygopalatine fossa
Infero-lateral view of the skull shows multiple communications to the pterygopalatine fossa. Palatine canals connect fossa to the oral cavity, sphenopalatine foramen opens into the nasal cavity, and inferior orbital fissure communicates with the orbit.
The list of terms: Fossa pterygopalatina – Pterygopalatine fossa
Fissura pterygomaxillaris – Pterygomaxillary fissure
Fissura orbitalis inferior – Inferior orbital fissure
Processus pterygoideus (ossis sphenoidalis) – Pterygoid process (of sphenoid)
Tuber maxillae – Tuber of maxilla
Foramen sphenopalatinum – Sphenopalatine foramen
Foramen palatinum majus – Greater palatine foramen
Canalis palatinus major – Greater palatine canal
Canales palatini minores – Lesser palatine canals

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Anterior aspect of the pterygopalatine fossa Latin terminology comments for the ventral view of the pterygopalatine fossa
Dorsal and superior walls of the pterygopalatine fossa are exposed after removing bones of the face, as well as ethmoid and frontal bones. In order to have a view on pterygopalatine fossa, the skull has to be split like this:: coronal split of the skull Note the pterygoid canal and round opening (foramen rotundum), connecting fossa with the external base of the skull and middle cranial fossa respectively.
The list of terms: Fossa pterygopalatina – Pterygopalatine fossa
Paries superior fossae pterygopalatinae – Upper wall of the pterygopalatine fossa
Facies maxillaris alae majoris ossis sphenoidalis – Maxillar surface of the greater wing of sphenoid bone
Paries posterior fossae pterygopalatinae – Posterior wall of the pterygopalatine fossa
Processus pterygoideus – Pterygoid process of sphenoid
Canalis pterygoideus – Pterygoid canal
Foramen rotundum – Round opening

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Back view of pterygopalatine fossa Latin terms for the back view of pterygopalatine fossa
Back view of the pterygopalatine fossa. Note the communication with the nasal cavity via foramen sphenopalatinum on the medial wall of the fossa.
The list of terms: Fossa pterygopalatina – Pterygopalatine fossa
Paries medialis fossae pterygopalatinae – Medial wall of pterygopalatine fossa
Lamina perpendicularis ossis palatini – Perpendicular plate of palatine bone
Paries anterior fossae pterygopalatinae – Anterior wall of the pterygopalatine fossa
Facies infratemporalis maxillae – Infratemporal surface of the maxilla
Foramen sphenopalatinum – Sphenopalatine foramen