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Sphenoid bone

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Locate the sphenoid bone from different views of the skull.
  2. Name the four main parts of the sphenoid bone and their features.
  3. Identify the neurovascular structures and organs related to the bony features of the sphenoid bone.

Watch videos

The sphenoid bone is one of the most complex bones of the skull. It comprises most of the middle part of the base of the skull, contributes to the floor of the middle cranial fossa of the skull, and forms a small portion of the bony orbit.

This video tutorial will provide you with an overview of the sphenoid bone.

Take a quiz

Now that you have watched the videos about the sphenoid bone, solidify your knowledge by taking our quiz.

To challenge yourself further, take a broader quiz about the structures of the skull.

Browse atlas

Browse the image gallery to study the individual parts and landmarks of the sphenoid bone in more detail.


Key facts about the sphenoid bone
Main parts Body (median portion)
Greater wing (lateral portion)
Lesser wings (anterior portion)
Pterygoid processes (directed inferiorly)
Sutures Sphenofrontal suture with frontal bone
Sphenoparietal suture with parietal bone
Sphenosquamosal suture with temporal bone
Spheno-occipital suture with occipital bone (disappears by age 25 as bones fuse together)
Relations Body: anteriorly contributes to nasal cavity; laterally - optic canal; superiorly - sella turcica, hypophyseal fossa, dorsum sellae
Lesser wings
: superolaterally - optic canal; inferiorly - lateral margin of orbit; superiorly - cranial cavity; together with body and greater wings builds superior orbital fissure
Greater wings
: anteriorly - posterior aspect of lateral orbital wall; contain foramen ovale and foramen spinosum
Pterygoid processes
: contain pterygoid canal and palatovaginal canal

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