Foramen cecum

Last revised by Dr Fabio Macori on 29 Jun 2022

The foramen cecum can refer to two separate anatomical structures, either in the tongue or anterior cranial fossa.

The foramen cecum of the tongue is the remnant of thyroglossal duct located between the anterior two-thirds and posterior third of the tongue. 

The foramen cecum of the anterior cranial fossa represents a primitive tract into the nasal space. It is located along the anterior cranial fossa, anterior to the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone and posterior to the frontal bone, within the frontoethmoidal suture. It lies at a variable distance anterior to the crista galli.

During embryologic development, the foramen cecum contains a dural diverticulum that extends from the anterior cranial fossa to the dermal surface of the nose. Normally, the dural diverticulum undergoes complete involution and the foramen cecum fills in with fibrous tissue and variably ossifies 2.

Ossification of the anterior cranial fossa and crista galli is usually incomplete at birth and progresses through the first few years of life 2. Thus, the foramen cecum is frequently found in infants, uncommonly in children, and rarely in adults where <1.5% of foramina remain open. It rarely transmits emissary venous connections (intra- or extracranial) to the nasal cavity.

A variety of midline nasal pathologies may occur along with this transient embryologic communication 2:

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: base of the skull, upper surface
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  • Case 1
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