Pterygoid processes of the sphenoid

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Pterygoid processes of the sphenoid
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Sphenoid bone, upper surface.
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Sphenoid bone, anterior and inferior surfaces.
Latin processus pterygoideus ossis sphenoidalis
Gray's p.151
Anatomical terms of bone

The pterygoid processes of the sphenoid, one on either side, descend perpendicularly from the regions where the body and great wings (alisphenoid) unite.

Each process consists of a medial pterygoid plate and a lateral pterygoid plate, the upper parts of which are fused anteriorly; a vertical sulcus, the pterygopalatine groove, descends on the front of the line of fusion.

The plates are separated below by an angular cleft, the pterygoid fissure (or pterygoid notch), the margins of which are rough for articulation with the pyramidal process of the palatine bone.

The two plates diverge behind and enclose between them a V-shaped fossa, the pterygoid fossa, which contains pterygoideus internus and tensor veli palatini.

Above this fossa is a small, oval, shallow depression, the scaphoid fossa, which gives origin to the tensor veli palatini.

The anterior surface of the pterygoid process is broad and triangular near its root, where it forms the posterior wall of the pterygopalatine fossa and presents the anterior orifice of the pterygoid canal.

In many mammals it remains as a separate bone called the pterygoid bone.

Its name is Greek for "resembling a fin or wing", from its shape.

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This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.