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Pterygopalatine fossa.
Brief description.
The pterygopalatine fossa is a small space below the orbit that is shaped in a
form of the inverted cone. It is located inferioly to the apex of the orbit and medial to the
infratemporal fossa, between the root of the pterygoid plates and the infratemporal
surface of the maxilla. It communicates with the orbit, middle cranial fossa, nasal
cavity, nasopharynx, oral cavity and infratemporal fossa by means of two fissures, two
foramens and three canals.
The pterygopalatine fossa contains Maxillary nerve V2 (second division of the
Trigeminal nerve), the pterygopalatine ganglion and the third part of the Maxillary artery.
Bony landmarks (boundaries).
- root of the pterygoid plates
- inferior surface of the greater wing of the sphenoid bone
- infratemporal surface of the maxilla
- body of the sphenoid bone
- orbital process of the palatine bone
- location of the pterygopalatine canal
- perpendicular plate of the palatine bone
- location of the pterygomaxillary fissure
Location of the openings in the posterior wall
Vidian canal-connection to the middle cranial fossa on the anterior side of the
foramen lacerum
Contents: Vidian nerve formed by greater superficial petrosal nerve
(preganglionic parasympathetic fibers) and lesser petrosal nerve (postganglionic
sympathetic fibers). Vidian nerve also conteins sensory fibers from CNIIV which go to
the .....?
Foramen rotundum- connection to the middle cranial fossa.
Contents: Maxillary nerve V2, the second division of the Trigeminal nerve.
Pharyngeal canal- connection to the nasopharynx.
Contents: pharyngeal nerve (a branch of V2, coming off the pterygopalatine
ganglion) and pharyngeal artery (a branch of the third part of the maxillary artery
Location of the openings in the medial and superior walls
Spheno-palatine foramen- (is formed due to the incomplete fusion of the
palatine and sphenoid bones)- connection to the nasal cavity.
Contents: nasopalatine nerve (a branch of V2 coming off the pterygopalatine
ganglion), long sphenopalatine artery (a branch of the third part of the maxillary artery).
Location of the openings on the anterior wall
Inferior orbital fissure-connection with the orbit.
Contents: infraorbital nerve (a branch of V2), infraorbital artery (a branch of the
third part of the maxillary artery).
Inferiorly pterygopalatine fossa continues in to a canal
pterygopalatine canal-connection with the oral cavity opens up as a greater
and lesser palatine foramina.
Contents: descending palatine nerve (a branch of V2 coming off the
pterygopalatine ganglion) descending palatine artery (a branch of the third part of the
maxillary artery).
Lateraly pterygopalatine fossa opens up in to the infratemporal fossa through
the pterygo-maxillary fissure
pterygo-maxillary fissure-connection with the infratemporal fossa.
Contents: maxillary artery enters pterygopalatine fossa via pterygo-maxillary
fissure. Posterior superior alveolar artery, comes off the maxillary artery in the pterygopalatine fossa but turns around and comes back out of the fossa vie pterygo-maxillary
fissure to enter its foramen on the tuberosity of the maxilla