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Vomer

The vomer is a thin, unpaired bone of the skull. Based on its appearance, its name in Latin means 'ploughshare'. The vomer is positioned vertically in the middle of the nasal cavity. The isolated bone has two surfaces and four borders. 

The main function of the vomer is to form the nasal septum together with the perpendicular plate of the ethmoid bone and the nasal septal cartilage. In addition, it provides grooves for the passageway of the neurovascular structures of the nasal cavity. 

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the vomer.

Key facts about the vomer
Definition Thin, flat, unpaired, trapezoid-shaped bone of the viscerocranium
Anatomical features Two surfaces, four borders (superior, inferior, anterior, posterior), two wings (ala of vomer), perpendicular plate, nasopalatine groove
Articulations Four bones of viscerocranium (maxillae, palatine bones)
Two bones of neurocranium (sphenoid, ethmoid)
Function Builds the posteroinferior portion of the nasal septum
Contents
  1. Anatomy
  2. Articulations
  3. Sources
+ Show all

Anatomy

The vomer is a small bone of the viscerocranium (or facial skeleton). It is located in the midsagittal plane of the skull, forming the posteroinferior part of the nasal septum, where it runs in an anteroinferior direction. It has horizontal projecting superior expansions of bone called the ala of the vomer (wings) and a vertical perpendicular plate, which forms the main part of the bone.

The vomer has two surfaces. On each surface, it presents a prominent oblique groove for the nasopalatine nerve and vessels called the nasopalatine groove.

The isolated bone has four borders: anterior, posterior, superior, and inferior. The thickest border is the superior border which possesses a deep furrow between projecting alae, which fits the rostrum of the body of the sphenoid bone.

Articulations

The vomer articulates with four facial bones (two maxillae and two palatine bones) and two neurocranial bones (sphenoid bone and ethmoid bones). The inferior border of the vomer articulates with the maxillae and the palatine bones. The superior border articulates with the sphenoid bone. The anterior border articulates with the perpendicular plate of the ethmoid bone and the nasal septal cartilage. The posterior border, however, is not attached to any bones, making it one of the few bones of the skull which does not fully articulate to other bones. This border separates the posterior nasal apertures or choanae.

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