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Inferior Oblique View of the Base of the Skull

Surgical Correlation


Inferior oblique view of the base of the skull.  A rod has been inserted through the piriform aperture, through the nasal cavity, and into the region of the skull corresponding to the pharynx.  The mandible is partially obstructing the view of the hard palate, which consists of the palatine processes of the maxillae and horizontal plates of the palatine bones.  In the postero-lateral aspect of the hard palate, medial to the third molars are the greater and lesser palatine foramina. The sphenoid bone makes up the central portion of the base of the skull and extends superiorly to form the lateral wall of the orbit.  Posterior to the sphenoid bone in the midline is the clivus, which is a part of the occipital bone anterior to the foramen magnum.  Lateral to the clivus is the petrous part of the temporal bone. The carotid canal transmits the internal carotid artery within the petrous part of the temporal bone. Posterior to the opening of the carotid canal is the jugular foramen, which is located between the petrous temporal bone and the occipital bone.   The facial nerve can be seen exiting the temporal bone via the stylomastoid foramen between the styloid process and the mastoid process.  The occipital bone articulates with the atlas (C1 vertebra).  The axis (C2 vertebra) has a large odontoid process extending superiorly from its body.  The odontoid articulates with the anterior arch of the atlas forming a pivot joint.  The transverse foramina of the cervical vertebrae transmit the vertebral arteries on each side. (Image courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)