Infratemporal fossa

The infratemporal fossa is an irregularly shaped cavity, situated below and medial to the zygomatic arch. It is not fully enclosed by bone in all directions, and it contains superficial muscles that are visible during dissection after removing skin and fascia: namely, the lower part of the temporalis muscle, the lateral pterygoid, and the medial pterygoid.

Infratemporal fossa
Left infratemporal fossa.
Latinfossa infratemporalis
Anatomical terminology

Its boundaries may be defined by:



  • Lower part of the Temporalis and masseter muscles (origin of masseter muscle:lower margin of the inner surface of zygomatic bone insertion : outer surface of the ramus of the mandible )
  • Lateral and medial pterygoid muscles


The internal maxillary vessels, consisting of the maxillary artery originating from the external carotid artery and its branches.

Infratemporal fossa

Internal maxillary branches found within the infratemporal fossa including the


  • pterygoid venous plexus
  • retromandibular vein


Mandibular nerve, inferior alveolar nerve, lingual nerve, buccal nerve, chorda tympani nerve, and otic ganglion.[1]

Mandibular nerve

Motor branches:

Its motor fibers innervate all the muscles of mastication plus the mylohyoid, anterior belly of the digastric, and the tensores veli palati and tympani

Sensory innervation:

Communications to nearby spaces

Additional images


The foramen ovale and foramen spinosum open on its roof, and the alveolar canals on its anterior wall.

At its upper and medial part are two fissures, which together form a T-shaped fissure, the horizontal limb being named the inferior orbital, and the vertical one the pterygomaxillary.


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 184 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. Moore, Keith L & Dalley, Arthur (2006). Clinically oriented anatomy (5th ed.), Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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