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Occipital bone

from Latin occiput - rear of head
Synonyms: occiput, os occipitale
German: Os occipitale

1 Definition

The occipital bone is a flattened skull bone and part of the neurocranium. It borders above with the sutura lambdoidea to the two parietal bones ossa parietalia, laterally to the temporal bone and below with the os sphenoidale.

2 Anatomy

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The os occipitale can be subdivided into 3 parts:

  • pars basilaris: The thick, roughly square part rostral of the foramen magnum, which forms the rear part of the skull base
  • pars lateralis: the part on both sides laterally to the foramen magnum
  • pars squamosa: the flat, deep dish-shaped dorsal to the foramen magnum.

On the outer surface behind the 4 necklines and the protuberantia occipitalis externa, a point of origin of the descending part (pars descendens) of the trapezius muscle is able to be recognised. The foramen magnum creates the point of passage for the medulla oblongata and the two vertrebral arteries arteriae vertebrales below. To each side of the foramen magnum there is a condylus occipitalis, which forms the articular process for the atlantooccipital joint. The hypoglossal nerve canalis nervi hypoglossi runs through the occipital condyles (condylus occipitalis). At the external basilar part of the occipital bone protrude the pharyngeal tubercle which is the attachment place for the pharyngeal raphe.

On the inner side one can recognise the internal occipital protuberance protuberantia occipitalis interna as well as the sulcus sinus transversi and its continuation in the sulcus sinus sigmoidei. Anterior to the foramen magnum the clivus is situated which is partly formed by the pars basilaris of occipital bone and mark the place where the right and left vertebral artery fuse.

The occipital bone, together with the temporal bones (ossa temporalia), form the skull base posterior fossa.

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