Foramen lacerum

The foramen lacerum (Latin: lacerated piercing) is a triangular hole in the base of skull, located between the sphenoid, the apex of the petrous temporal and the basilar part of the occipital.

Foramen lacerum
Base of the skull. Upper surface. (Foramen lacerum is labeled at center left, and is visible as the large hole between yellow sphenoid, red temporal, and blue occipital)
LatinForamen lacerum
Anatomical terminology


The foramen lacerum (Latin: lacerated piercing) is a triangular hole in the base of skull located between the sphenoid, apex of petrous temporal and basilar part of occipital. It is the juncture of the petroclival, sphenopetrosal, and pterygosphenoidal sutures.

The foramen lacerum is a foramen situated anteromedial to the carotid canal.[1] :776


The foramen lacerum fills with cartilage after birth.[1] :776



The artery of pterygoid canal, the nerve of pterygoid canal and some venous drainage pass through the foramen lacerum.

The internal carotid artery passes from the carotid canal in the base of the skull, emerging and coursing superior to foramen lacerum as it exits the carotid canal. The internal carotid artery does not travel through foramen lacerum. The segment of the internal carotid artery that travels above foramen lacerum is called the lacerum segment.[2]

Clinical significance

The foramen lacerum has been described as a portal of entry into the cranium for tumours, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma, juvenile angiofibroma, adenoid cystic carcinoma, malignant melanoma, and lymphoma.[3][4]


The first recorded mention of the foramen lacerum was by anatomist Wenzel Gruber in 1869.[5][3] Study of the foramen has been neglected for many years because of the small role it plays in intracranial surgery.[3]

Additional images


  1. Drake, Richard L.; Vogl, Wayne; Tibbitts, Adam W.M. Mitchell; illustrations by Richard; Richardson, Paul (2005). Gray's anatomy for students. Philadelphia: Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone. ISBN 978-0-8089-2306-0.
  2. Tubbs, R. Shane; Shoja, Mohammadali M.; Loukas, Marios. Bergman's Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation. John Wiley & Sons. p. 450. ISBN 9781118430279.
  3. Tauber, M; van Loveren, HR; Jallo, G; Romano, A; Keller, JT (February 1999). "The enigmatic foramen lacerum". Neurosurgery. 44 (2): 386–91, discussion 391-3. doi:10.1097/00006123-199902000-00083. PMID 9932893.
  4. Christodouleas, Boris Hristov, Steven H. Lin, John P. (2010). Radiation oncology : a question-based review. Philadelphia, Pa.: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 138. ISBN 1608314448.
  5. Gruber, Wenzel (1869). Beitrage Zur Anatomie Des Schadelgrundes. ISBN 9781162306223.
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