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The Temporal Fossa - want to learn more about it?

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The Temporal Fossa

The temporal fossa is a depression on the temporal region and one of the largest landmarks on the skull. The temporal bone, the sphenoid bone, the parietal bone and the frontal bone contribute to its concave wall. It is superior to the infratemporal fossa which lies beneath the zygomatic arch.

Recommended video: Posterior and lateral views of the skull
Structures seen on the posterior and lateral views of the skull.

Borders

Both superiorly and posteriorly the temporal fossa is bordered by the superior temporal line (origin of the deep temporal fascia). The inferior border runs along the zygomatic arch. Lastly, the anterior border is marked by the frontal process of the zygoma and the zygomatic process of the frontal bone.

Temporal fossa - lateral-left view

Contents

Muscles

The temporal fossa serves as a site of origin for the temporal muscle. It originates from the superior, anterior and posterior borders of the temporal fossa and resides within its concavity as the muscle fibers move towards their insertion point, which lies under the zygomatic arch.

Temporal muscle - lateral-left view

Blood Vessels

The superior temporal artery, a terminal branch of the external carotid artery, courses above the superficial temporal fascia. It branches off the medial temporal artery to the temporal muscle and two smaller arteries to the scalp (frontal and parietal branches).

Superficial temporal artery - lateral-left view

The artery is accompanied by the superior temporal vein. The medial vein runs between the two layers of the temporal fascia.

Nerves

The fossa contains four branches from four different nerve bundles. The terminal branches include:

  • a branch of the mandibular nerve (V3)
  • the anterior and posterior branches of the deep temporal nerve

Temporal branches of facial nerve - lateral-left view

  • the auriculotemporal nerve
  • the temporal branches of the facial nerve.

Summary

The temporal fossa has the following borders:

  • Superiorly and posteriorly - superior temporal line
  • Inferiorly - zygomatic arch
  • Anteriorly - frontal process of the zygoma and zygomatic process of the frontal bone

Its contents consist of:

  • Temporal muscle
  • Superior temporal artery
  • A branch of the mandibular nerve (V3)
  • The anterior and posterior branches of the deep temporal nerve
  • The auriculotemporal nerve
  • The temporal branches of the facial nerve

The Temporal Fossa - 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.

Sign up for your free Kenhub account today and join over 852,397 successful anatomy students.

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References:

  • Neil S. Norton, Frank H. Netter: Netter’s Head and Neck Anatomy for Dentistry, 2nd Edition, Elsevier Saunders (2011), p.204-209
  • Frank H. Netter: Atlas der Anatomie, 5th Edition (Bilingual Edition: English and German), Saunders (2011), table 6 and 54.
  • Heinz Feneis, Wolfgang Dauber: Pocket Atlas of Human Anatomy, 4th Edition, Thieme (2010), p.12-17
  • Friedrich Anderhuber, Franz Pera, Johannes Streicher: Waldeyer Anatomie des Menschen, De Gruyter (2012), 19th edition, p.712, 860
  • Theodor H. Schieber, Horst-Werner Korf: Anatomie, 10th edition, Steinkopff Verlag (2007), p. 629

Author:

  • Dr. Alexandra Sieroslawska

Illustrators:

  • Temporal fossa - lateral-left view - Yousun Koh
  • Temporal muscle - lateral-left view -  Yousun Koh
  • Superficial temporal artery - lateral-left view - Yousun Koh
  • Temporal branches of facial nerve - lateral-left view - Paul Kim
© 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.

Related Atlas Images

Posterior and lateral skull

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