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Medial Wall of the Nasal Cavity

Nasal Skeleton

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

Nasal septum - medial view

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

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

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.

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

Vomer

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

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

Palatine bone - medial view

Nasal Cartilage & Associted 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

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

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 tubar tonsil. It resides at the base of the cartilaginous section of the Eustachian tube.

Pharyngeal tonsil - medial view

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

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

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:

  • tensor veli palatine (innervated by the mandibular branch of the trigeminal nerve)
  • palatoglossus
  • the palatopharyngeus which has a crucial role in breathing
  • the levator veli palatini which elevates the soft palate to encompass the bolus of food
  • the musculus uvulae which move the uvula

Soft palate - medial view

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.

Summary

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

The septal cartilage divides the nasal cavity into two halves. The anteroinferior part of the cartilage has an expansion known as the ‘footplate’ which 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.

The floor of the nasal cavity is formed by the hard and soft palates.

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Show references

References:

  • Johannes Lang: Clinical Anatomy of the Nose, Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinuses, Thieme, Chapter 2 Nasal Cavity, page 31 to 35.
  • Frank H.Netter MD: Atlas of Human Anatomy, 5th Edition, Elsevier Saunders, Chapter 1 Head and Neck: Medial Wall of the Nasal Cavity, Page 38 and 39.
  • Chummy S.Sinnatamby: Last’s Anatomy Regional and Applied, 12th Edition, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, Chapter 6 Head and Neck and Spine, Page 375.
  • Richard L. Drake, A. Wayne Vogl, Adam. W.M. Mitchell: Gray’s Anatomy for Students, 2nd Edition, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, Chapter 8 Head and Neck: Nasal Cavities, Page 1014 to 1020.
  • Richard L. Drake, A. Wayne Vogl, Adam. W.M. Mitchell: Dorland’s Gray’s Pocket Atlas of Anatomy, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier , Chapter 8 Head and Neck, Page 361.

Author and Layout:

  • Shahab Shahid
  • Catarina Chaves

Illustrators:         

  • Nasal septum - medial view - Yousun Koh
  • Perpendicular plate of ethmoid bone - medial view - Yousun Koh
  • Cribriform plate - medial view - Yousun Koh
  • Vomer - medial view - Yousun Koh
  • Palatine bone - medial view - Yousun Koh
  • Posterior process of cartilage of nasal septum - medial view - Yousun Koh
  • Posterior nasal spine - medial view - Yousun Koh
  • Pharyngeal tonsil - medial view - Yousun Koh
  • Hard palate - medial view - Yousun Koh
  • Soft palate - medial view - Yousun Koh
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