After completing this study unit you will be able to:
- Describe the three cranial fossae, their borders and bones that comprise them.
- Identify all the foramina, canals, sulci and other structures seen on the base of the skull.
- Name all of the neurovascular structures that traverse the openings on the skull base
The base of the skull, or the cranial floor, is the inferior wall of the cranial cavity. It comprises parts of the frontal, sphenoid, temporal, and occipital bones. These bones form the three cranial fossae: anterior, middle and posterior.
The base of the skull features many openings that are traversed by nerves, arteries and veins travelling between the brain and the neck. This video tutorial will explain everything you need to know about the anatomy of the base of the skull observed from the superior view.
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Analyze all these landmarks in detail with our atlas gallery:
|Anterior cranial fossa||
Bones: Orbital surface of frontal bone, lesser wing of sphenoid bone, cribriform plate of ethmoid bone
Landmarks: Anterior ethmoidal foramen, cribriform foramina, sphenoidal yoke, foramen caecum, frontal crest
Content: Frontal lobe of cerebrum, olfactory bulb, olfactory tract
|Middle cranial fossa||
Bones: Body and greater wings of sphenoid bone, squama and anterior surface of petrous part of temporal bone
Landmarks: Chiasmatic sulcus, tuberculum sellae, anterior clinoid process, sella turcica, middle clinoid process, carotid sulcus, foramen lacerum, foramen spinosum, superior orbital fissure, foramen rotundum, foramen ovale, trigeminal impression, internal opening of carotid canal
Content: Temporal lobe of cerebrum, pituitary gland
|Posterior cranial fossa||
Bones: Posterior surface of petrous part of temporal bone, occipital bone
Landmarks: Clivus, foramen magnum, internal acoustic meatus, jugular foramen, hypoglossal canal
Content: Brainstem, cerebellum