Pterygopalatine fossa

In human anatomy, the pterygopalatine fossa (sphenopalatine fossa) is a fossa in the skull. A human skull contains two pterygopalatine fossae—one on the left side, and another on the right side. Each fossa is a cone-shaped paired depression deep to the infratemporal fossa and posterior to the maxilla on each side of the skull, located between the pterygoid process and the maxillary tuberosity close to the apex of the orbit.[1] It is the indented area medial to the pterygomaxillary fissure leading into the sphenopalatine foramen. It communicates with the nasal and oral cavities, infratemporal fossa, orbit, pharynx, and middle cranial fossa through eight foramina.[2]

Pterygopalatine fossa
Left maxillary sinus opened from the exterior.
Human skull with entrance to pterygopalatine fossa marked in purple
Latinfossa pterygopalatina
Anatomical terms of bone



It has the following boundaries:


The following passages connect the fossa with other parts of the skull:

Posteriorlyforamen rotundummiddle cranial fossa
pterygoid canal (Vidian)middle cranial fossa, foramen lacerum
palatovaginal canal (pharyngeal)nasal cavity/nasopharynx
Anteriorlyinferior orbital fissureorbit
Mediallysphenopalatine foramennasal cavity
Laterallypterygomaxillary fissureinfratemporal fossa
Inferiorlygreater palatine canal (pterygopalatine)oral cavity,

lesser palatine canals


The pterygopalatine fossa contains

See also

Additional images


  1. Illustrated Anatomy of the Head and Neck, Fehrenbach and Herring, Elsevier, 2012, page 69
  2. Osborn, Anne (March 1979). "Radiology of the Pterygoid Plates and Pterygopalatine Fossa" (PDF). AJR. 132 (3): 389–394. doi:10.2214/ajr.132.3.389. PMID 106641.
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