Foramen rotundum

The foramen rotundum is a circular hole in the sphenoid bone that connects the middle cranial fossa and the pterygopalatine fossa.

Foramen rotundum of Sphenoid
Sphenoid bone. Upper surface. (Foramen rotundum labeled at center left)
Base of the skull. Upper surface. Sphenoid is yellow, and arrows indicate the foramen rotundum.)
Latinforamen rotundum ossis sphenoidalis
Anatomical terms of bone


Foramen rotundum

The foramen rotundum is one of the several circular apertures (the foramina) located in the base of the skull, in the anterior and medial part of the sphenoid bone.

The mean area of the foramina rotunda is not considerable, which may suggest that they play a minor role in the dynamics of blood circulation in the venous system of the head.[1]


The foramen rotundum evolves in shape throughout the fetal period, and from birth to adolescence. It achieves a perfect ring-shaped formation in the fetus after the 4th fetal month. It is mostly oval-shaped in the fetal period, and round-shaped after birth (generally speaking). After birth, the rotundum is about 2.5 mm and in 15- to 17-year olds about 3 mm in length. The average diameter of the foramen rotundum in adults is 3.55 mm.[2][3]


The maxillary branch (V2) of the trigeminal nerve (CN V) passes through and exits the skull via the pterygopalatine fossa and the foramen rotundum.



Foramen is the Latin term designating a hole-like opening. It derives from the Latin forare meaning to bore or perforate. Here, the opening is round as indicated by the Latin rotundum meaning round.

See also


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 150 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. Reymond J, Charuta A, Wysocki J (2005). "The morphology and morphometry of the foramina of the greater wing of the human sphenoid bone". Folia Morphologica. 64 (3): 188–93. PMID 16228954.
  2. Yanagi S (1987). "Developmental studies on the foramen rotundum, foramen ovale and foramen spinosum of the human sphenoid bone". The Hokkaido Journal of Medical Science. 62 (3): 485–96. PMID 3610040.
  3. Lang J, Maier R, Schafhauser O (1984). "Postnatal enlargement of the foramina rotundum, ovale et spinosum and their topographical changes". Anatomischer Anzeiger. 156 (5): 351–87. PMID 6486466.
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