Connection lost. Please refresh the page.
Get help How to study Login Register
Ready to learn?
Pick your favorite study tool

Medial wall of the nasal cavity

Recommended video: Medial wall of the nasal cavity [08:20]
Bones, cartilages and mucosa of the medial wall of the nasal cavity.

The medial wall of the nasal cavity comprises the nasal septum, the septal cartilage and various bones of the skull.

This article covers each structure and concludes with a summary of the the most important facts.

  1. Nasal skeleton
    1. Ethmoid bone
    2. Maxillary bone
    3. Vomer
    4. Palatine bone
  2. Nasal cartilage and associated structures
  3. Floor of the nasal cavity
    1. Hard palate
    2. Soft palate
  4. Summary
  5. Sources
+ Show all

Nasal skeleton

The nasal septum is a structure consisting of both bony and cartilaginous components. The bony components are the:

Nasal septum (medial view)

Ethmoid bone

The medial wall of the nasal cavity is formed by both bony elements and cartilage. Posteriorly the perpendicular plate of the ethmoid bone forms the superoposterior part of the bony nasal septum and articulates superiorly with the cribriform plate. The posterior border articulates superiorly with the sphenoidal crest and with the vomer by its inferior border.

Perpendicular plate of ethmoid bone (medial view)

The cribriform plate is found in the midline on the anterior floor of the anterior cranial fossa. It can be descried as a thin bony plate of perforated bone through which the fibres of the olfactory nerve ascend and reach the entorhinal cortex. The plate is divided by the crista galae in the midline.

Cribriform plate (medial view)

Maxillary bone

Further posteriorly than the ethmoid bone, the crest of both the maxilla and palatine bone complete the posterior septum. The anterior septum is formed entirely of the quadrangular cartilage which divides the cavity in the midline. The nasal septum can be deviated in some and is a sign of nasal trauma or abnormal growth.


The vomer is an unpaired bone of the skull forms the inferior part of the septum. It is located in the mid sagittal plane and articulates with the ethmoid, both palatine bones and both maxillary bones.

Vomer (medial view)

Palatine bone

The horizontal plate of the palatine bone is a rectangular shaped bone that projects medially and forms a right angle with the perpendicular plate of the ethmoid. The nasal surface of the bone forms part of the inferior meatus of the nose, while the serrated anterior maxillary surface articulates with the maxilla. Laterally the bone articulates with the perpendicular plate, and superior portion of the plate forms the posterior part of the nasal cavity. The inferior surface of the plate is rough and provides attachment to the oral mucosa of the hard palate.

Palatine bone (medial view)

Nasal cartilage and associated structures

The septal cartilage is approximately 3-4mm thick. It divides the nasal cavity into two halves. The anteroinferior part of the cartilage has an expansion known as the ‘footplate’ which is 4-8mm wide. This foot plate lies in free contact with the membranous septum. The cartilage is expanded in other regions, namely the junction with the lateral nasal cartilage termed the posterior process. The cartilage is firmly adhered to the nasal bone by taut collagen fibres.

Posterior process of cartilage of nasal septum (medial view)

The cartilage of the septum is also termed the ‘quadrangular cartilage’ due to its shape. The posterior nasal spine is a sharp pointed projection of the posterior border of the palatine bone. The musculus uvula gains its attachment here.

Posterior nasal spine (medial view)

The pharyngeal tonsil is also known as the adenoid. It is a mass of lymphatic tissue located in the roof of the nasopharynx. The structure degrades with age and is almost entirely absent at puberty. The torus tubarius is also known as the tubal tonsil. It resides at the base of the cartilaginous section of the auditory tube.

Pharyngeal tonsil (medial view)

The choana is an opening at the back of the nasal passage that empties into the nasopharynx, close to where the adenoids are. The passage way forms an outflow from the nasopharynx into the mouth and throat.

Choanae (axial view)

Floor of the nasal cavity

Hard palate

The pharyngeal opening of the auditory tube can be described as a triangular opening surrounded by a raised, firm prominence known as the ‘torus’. The most medial end of the cartilage causes the elevation of the mucous membrane. The hard palate is a horizontal plate of bone formed by both the palatine process of the maxilla, which forms 75% of the hard palate, and the horizontal plate of the palatine bone, which forms the remaining 25%.

Hard palate (medial view)

This bony structure has numerous perforations to allow for the passage of nutrient vessels. Its function is to form a separation between the nasopharynx and oropharynx. Insufficiency in this structure can cause difficulty with swallowing.

Soft palate

The soft palate is also referred to as the ‘velum’. This is a continuation of the hard palate posteriorly but has no bony structure. This structure is constituted of five muscles crucial for swallowing. These are the:

Soft palate (medial view)

The uvula has an essential role in human speech and works with the posterior part of the tongue to create ‘guttural’ sounds.

Medial wall of the nasal cavity: want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more.

Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

Register now and grab your free ultimate anatomy study guide!