Pterygoid canal

Last revised by Dr Calum Worsley on 29 May 2021

The pterygoid canal, also known as the Vidian canal, is a foramen in the base of skull, located in the pterygoid process of the sphenoid bone, superior to the pterygoid plates, and inferomedial to the foramen rotundum. It transmits the Vidian artery and Vidian nerve from the middle cranial fossa to the pterygopalatine fossa

History and etymology

The Vidian canal is named after the Italian surgeon and anatomist, Guido Guidi (Latin: Vidus Vidius) (1509-1569).

Clinical importance

The pterygoid canal is a reliable landmark for identifying the position of the anterior genu and lacerum segment of the internal carotid artery as it emerges from the petrous bone 2.

It is an important structure as the involvement of the canal in inflammatory or neoplastic disease can result in pain referred deep to the nasal cavity. Pathological appearances of the pterygoid canal have been described to include effacement, atrophy, and enlargement. It can be difficult to distinguish possible pathological changes from normal anatomical variation. 

Anatomy: Head and neck

Anatomy: Head and neck

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1
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  • Case 2a: labeled 27
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  • Case 2b: labeled 83
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