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Posterior and lateral views of the skull

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

1. Identify the skull bones as seen from posterior and lateral views of the skull.
2. Name the sutures, canals, sulci and other structures seen from this perspective.
3. Identify the neurovascular structures that pass through the openings of the skull located on its lateral and posterior aspects.

Watch videos

The skull is comprised of 22 bones which are mostly connected to each other by fibrous joints, known as sutures. When the skull is observed from the lateral perspective, the most prominent bones are (anterior to posterior): the lateral aspects of the frontal bone, maxilla and mandible, zygomatic, sphenoid, temporal, parietal, and occipital bones.

When viewed from the posterior perspective, you can see the posterior aspect of the parietal bones, the squamous part of the occipital bone, posterior aspects of the maxilla and the mandible as well as some parts of the temporal and sphenoid bones.

This video tutorial will provide you with an overview of the lateral and posterior views of the skull.

Take a quiz

Now that you have watched the videos about the structures seen on the posterior and lateral views of the skull, solidify your knowledge by taking our quiz.

To adjust your focus and choose the topics you’ll get quizzed on, try out our customizable quiz:

Browse atlas

After watching the video, you can look closely at each bony feature with our galleries:


Key points about the structures seen on the posterior and lateral views of the skull
Posterior view of the skull Bones: Occipital bone, parietal bones, palatine bone, sphenoid bone, temporal bone, maxilla, mandible
: Lambdoid suture, sagittal (interparietal) suture, occipitomastoid suture
Bony landmarks
- occipital bone: highest nuchal line, superior nuchal line, external occipital protuberance, inferior nuchal line, occipital condyles
- maxilla: alveolar processes, incisive foramen
- sphenoid bone: pterygoid process
- temporal bone: styloid process, mastoid process, mastoid foramen
- mandible: inferior alveolar (a.k.a. mandibular) foramen, sublingual fossa, submandibular fossa, mental spines
Lateral view of the skull Bones: nasal bone, lacrimal bone, frontal bone, maxilla, mandible, zygomatic, sphenoid, temporal, parietal and occipital bones
: frontozygomatic suture, sphenofrontal suture, sphenoparietal suture, sphenosquamous suture, squamous suture, coronal suture, pterion
Bony landmarks
: superior temporal line, inferior temporal line, temporal fossa, zygomatic arch;
- frontal bone: supraorbital notch
- maxilla: infraorbital foramen, alveolar process
- mandible: ramus (angle of mandible, condylar process, mandibular notch, coronoid process), body (mental foramen, mental protuberance, alveolar part)
- zygomatic bone: frontal process, zygomaticofacial foramen, temporal process
- sphenoid bone: greater wing (temporal surface)
- temporal bone: squamous part (zygomatic process), tympanic part (bony external acoustic opening), petrous part (styloid process, mastoid process)

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