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The stylomandibular tunnel is a space between the mandibular ramus and the styloid process / stylohyoid ligament. It separates the (prestyloid) parapharyngeal space from the parotid space. In some definitions, the portion of the parotid gland that extends into the stylomandibular tunnel is considered the deep (retromandibular) portion of the gland 3.
When there is a mass in the region of the parapharyngeal space, changes in stylomandibular tunnel size can help determine the space of origin 1,2:
- widened: mass arising in the prestyloid parapharyngeal space or from the deep lobe of the parotid gland
- narrowed: mass arising in the carotid space