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Pterygopalatine fossa

Synonym: sphenopalatine fossa
German: Fossa pterygopalatina

1 Definition

The pterygopalatine fossa is a cone-shaped space in the medial continuation of the infratemporal fossa. It is formed by parts of sphenoid bone, maxilla and palatine bone and communicates with nasal cavity, oral cavity, orbit, infratemporal fossa and middle cranial fossa.

2 Boundaries

  • Anterior: posterior wall of maxillary sinus
  • Posterior: pterygoid process of sphenoid bone
  • Superior: inferior orbital fissure
  • Inferior: pyramidal process of paatine bone
  • Medial: perpendicular plate of palatine bone
  • Lateral: pterygomaxillary fissure

3 Content

There are tree most important structures within the pterygopalatine fossa:

  • Maxillary artery
  • Maxillary nerve
  • Pterygopalatine ganglion (or Meckel's ganglion)

4 Communications

The pterygopalatine fossa communicates with all the cavities and fossae mentioned above via seven passages.

Cavity/Fossa the pterygopalatine fossa communicates with Orbit Nasal cavity Oral cavity Middle cranial fossa Infratemporal fossa
Name of the communication(s) Inferior orbital fissure Sphenopalatine foramen, pharyngeal foramen Greater palatine canal Pterygoid canal, Foramen rotundum Pterygotemporal fissure

5 Clinical relevance

During dental surgery a total nerve block of the maxillay nerve sometimes is required. Usually the maxillary neve is reached via oral cavity through the greater palatine canal.

6 Reference

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