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Inferior View of Infratemporal Fossa

Surgical Correlation

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Inferior view of the roof of the right infratemporal fossa. For orientation, the top of the image is anterior; the bottom is posterior; the left border is lateral, the right border, medial. The roof of the infratemporal fossa is the undersurface of the greater wing of the sphenoid. It contains two foramina, the foramen ovale and foramen spinosum, that transmit the mandibular nerve and middle meningeal artery, respectively. The superior head of the lateral pterygoid muscle attaches to this surface and to the articular disc and capsule of the temporomandibular joint. The inferior head (shown cut here) attaches to the lateral surface of the lateral pterygoid plate (removed) and to the fovea on the neck of the mandible. Both lateral and medial pterygoid plates have been removed as well as the medial pterygoid and tensor veli palatini muscles. The temporalis muscle is present at the left border of the image. Between this muscle and the lateral pterygoid muscle is the pterygoid venous plexus. Between the superior head of the lateral pterygoid and skull bone course the deep temporal nerves that provide motor innervation to the temporalis muscle. The buccal nerve passes toward the cheek by passing between the superior and inferior heads of the lateral pterygoid muscle. The maxillary nerve is shown emerging from the foramen rotundum. Its largest branch, the infraorbital nerve, is shown coursing in company with the infraorbital artery to the floor of the orbit via the inferior orbital fissure. At the base of the medial pterygoid plate is the location of the pterygoid canal transmitting the nerve of the pterygoid canal. (Image courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)

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