Craniomaxillofacial bones

Calvaria (skullcap)

Adult skull

The calvaria (skullcap) comprises the superior portions of the frontal bone, the occipital bone, and the parietal bones.

Infant skull (fontanelles)

An infant's neurocranium consists of five separate bones (two frontal bones, two parietal bones, and one occipital bone) held together by connective tissue sutures. This allows for stretching and deformation of the skull to facilitate birth and accommodate the brain's growth at a faster rate than the surrounding bone. The larger areas of connective tissue that arise at the gaps between the bone plates are called “fontanelles”.

  • Posterior fontanelle
  • Anterior fontanelle
  • Sphenoidal fontanelles (not pictured)
  • Mastoid fontanelles (not pictured)

Base of the skull

Superior surface of the base of the skull

Area Bones Foramina Penetrating structures
Anterior cranial fossa
  • Foramen cecum
Middle cranial fossa
  • Maxillary nerve (V2)
  • Mandibular nerve (V3)
  • Accessory meningeal artery
  • Emissary vein connecting cavernous sinus with pterygoid plexus
  • Meningeal branch of the mandibular nerve (V3)
  • Middle meningeal artery and vein
  • Nerve of pterygoid canal (consists of deep petrosal nerve and greater petrosal nerve)
  • Artery of pterygoid canal
  • Meningeal branch of ascending pharyngeal artery
  • Emissary vein
  • Greater petrosal nerve (from VII)
  • Lesser petrosal nerve (from IX)
  • Superior tympanic artery
Posterior cranial fossa

Inferior surface of the base of the skull

Area Bones Foramina Penetrating structures
  • Nasopalatine nerve (from V2)
  • Descending palatine artery
  • Greater palatine nerve (from V2)
  • Greater palatine artery and vein
  • Lesser palatine nerve (from V2)
  • Lesser palatine artery and vein
  • Greater petrosal nerve (from VII)
  • Lesser petrosal nerve (from IX) through the sphenopetrosal fissure
  • Deep petrosal nerve (from the internal carotid plexus)
  • Chorda tympani (from VII)
  • Anterior tympanic artery
  • Auricular branch (from X)
  • Tympanic nerve (from IX)
  • Mastoid emissary vein
  • Condylar emissary vein

Temporal, infratemporal, and pterygopalatine fossae

Location Connection to other cranial cavities Most important structures
Temporal fossa
  • Auriculotemporal nerve
  • Superficial temporal artery
  • Temporal muscle
  • Zygomaticotemporal nerve
  • Deep temporal arteries

Infratemporal fossa

  • Mandibular nerve
  • Otic ganglion
  • Maxillary artery
  • Pterygoid plexus
  • Medial pterygoid muscle
  • Lateral pterygoid muscle

Pterygopalatine fossa



Temporomandibular joints (TMJ)

last updated 03/24/2019
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