What are the Foramina of Middle Cranial Fossa and structures passing through them

Cranium is the part of human body and the Skull which is made up of eight cranial bones. Cranium is in short the portion of the skull which surrounds the brain protecting it from external forces. Cranial Fossa are depressions of fossa on the surface of the cranium through which various soft tissue structures pass. There are three types of Cranial Fossa – Anterior Cranial Fossa, Middle Cranial Fossa and Posterior Cranial Fossa. The Middle cranial fossa is separated from the anterior cranial fossa by the Sphenoid bone

Coming to the bones which surround the Middle Cranial Fossa, the greater wing of the sphenoid forms the anterior floor of the fossa. The posterior floor of the middle cranial fossa is made up by the anterior aspect of the petrous temporal bone. The body of the sphenoid makes up the central portion of the middle fossa and houses the sella turcica. In this post we are going to list down the Foramina of the middle cranial fossa and the structures passing through it and the areas connected.

Structures passing through Foramina of middle cranial fossa

Source: Clonical Gate

Foramina of Middle Cranial Fossa and Structures passing through:

There are eight foramen present in the middle cranial fossa and many structures like nerves, arteries and veins passing through them. Below is the list of all the foramen and the structures passing through them. 

1. Optic canal

Structures passing through the Optic canal

  • Optic nerve
  • Meninges covering optic nerve
  • Ophthalmic artery
  • Sympathetic plexus of nerve around ophthalmic artery.

Areas connected:

  • Middle cranial Fossa and orbit.

2. Superior Orbital Fissure:

Structure passing through superior orbital fissure

A. Larcrimal nerve
B. Frontal nerve
C. Trochlear nerv
D. Abductor nerve
E. Oculomotor
F. Nasociliary nerve
G. Superior ophthalmic vein.
H. A branch from middle meningeal artery to enter the orbit or a branch of Larcrimal artery to enter the middle cranial Fossa.
I. Inferior ophthalmic vein.

Areas connected with superior orbital fissure

  • Middle cranial Fossa with orbit

3. Foramen rotundum

Structures passing through Foramen Rotundum

  • Maxillary nerve

Areas connected with Foramen Rotundum

  • Middle cranial Fossa with pterygopalatine fossa

4. Foramen Ovale

Structures passing through Foramen Ovale

  • Sensory and motor roots of mandibular nerve
  • Lesser superficial Petrosal nerve
  • Accessory middle meningeal artery.
  • Emissary being communicating cavernous sinus with pterygopalatine plexus of veins.

Areas connected by Foramen Ovale

  • Middle cranial Fossa with infra temporal fossa

5. Foramen Spinosum

Structures passing through Foramen Spinosum

  • Middle meningeal artery
  • Nervous spinosusComposite build up photos

Areas connected

  • Middle cranial Fossa with infratemporal fossa

6. Foramen Lacerum

Structures passing through Foramen Lacerum

  • Meningeal branch of ascending pharyngitis artery.
  • Emissary vein communicating cavernous songs with pterygoid venous plexus

Areas connected

  • Middle cranial Fossa with infratemporal fossa

7. Carotid Canal

Structures passing through Carotid Canal

  • Internal carotid artery
  • Internal carotid plexus of nerves
  • Emissary veins communicating cavernous sinus with pharyngeal plexus of veins
  • Lymph vessels from meninges to the deep cervical nodes.

Areas connected

  • Base of skull with middle cranial fossa

8. Emissary of sphenoidal foramen of vesalius (not always present)

Structure passing through

  • Emissary vein communicating cavernous sinus with pterygoid venous plexus.

Areas connected

  • Middle cranial Fossa with infratemporal fossa

These are the various Foramen and the structures passing through them explained in a detailed and organized fashion to help you remember easily during examinations, viva or in everyday practice. 

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