Infratemporal fossa

Last revised by Dr Francis Deng on 25 Apr 2022

The infratemporal fossa is a complex space of the face that lies posterolateral to the maxillary sinus, below the skull base, and between the pharyngeal sidewall and mandibular ramus. It overlaps with the masticator space and prestyloid parapharyngeal space.

Gross anatomy

The infratemporal fossa is the space between the skull base, lateral pharyngeal wall, and the ramus of mandible. The fossa is actually open to the neck posteroinferiorly and in doing so has no true anatomical floor.

The fossa communicates with the temporal fossa via the space deep to the zygomatic arch, with the pterygopalatine fossa via the pterygomaxillary fissure, with the middle cranial fossa via the foraminae ovale and spinosum and with the orbit through the inferior orbital fissure

The lateral pterygoid forms the foundation whereupon all other contents of the fossa are related. The branches of the mandibular nerve and the attachments of the medial pterygoid lie deep to the lateral pterygoid while the maxillary artery lies superficial to it. Between the two heads of the lateral pterygoid emerges the buccal branch of the mandibular nerve. The lingual and inferior alveolar branches of the mandibular nerve lie below the inferior border of the lateral pterygoid.

Boundaries
Relations

The infratemporal fossa encompasses the retroantral fat and medial parts of the following spaces 6:

Contents

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: lateral view (Gray's illustration)
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