Superior orbital fissure

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Superior orbital fissure
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Orbit seen from the front, with bones labeled in different colors, and superior orbital fissure at center as an "hour-glass" formation.
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Part ofsphenoid bone
Latinfissura orbitalis superior
Anatomical terms of bone

The superior orbital fissure is a foramen or cleft in the skull. It lies between the lesser and greater wings of the sphenoid bone. It allows for many structures to pass, including the oculomotor nerve, the trochlear nerve, the ophthalmic nerve, the abducens nerve, the ophthalmic vein, and sympathetic fibres from the cavernous plexus.


Superior orbital fissure.

The superior orbital fissure lies between the lesser and greater wings of the sphenoid bone.[1] It is between the optic canal (in front) and the foramen rotundum (behind).[1]

Structures passing through[edit]

A number of important anatomical structures pass through the fissure, and these can be damaged in orbital trauma, particularly blowout fractures through the floor of the orbit into the maxillary sinus. These structures are:

It is divided into 3 parts from lateral to medial:


The superior orbital fissure is usually 22 mm wide in adults.[1]

Clinical significance[edit]

The abducens nerve is most likely to show signs of damage first, with the most common complaints retro-orbital pain and the involvement of cranial nerves III, IV, V1, and VI without other neurological signs or symptoms. This presentation indicates either compression of structures in the superior orbital fissure or the cavernous sinus.

Superior orbital fissure syndrome[edit]

Superior orbital fissure syndrome, also known as Rochon-Duvigneaud's syndrome,[4][5] is a neurological disorder that results if the superior orbital fissure is fractured. Involvement of the cranial nerves that pass through the superior orbital fissure may lead to diplopia, paralysis of extraocular muscles, exophthalmos, and ptosis. Blindness or loss of vision indicates involvement of the orbital apex, which is more serious, requiring urgent surgical intervention. Typically, if blindness is present with superior orbital syndrome, it is called orbital apex syndrome.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Weinzweig, Jeffrey; Taub, Peter J.; Bartlett, Scott P. (2010). "46 - Fractures of the Orbit". Plastic Surgery Secrets Plus (2nd ed.). Chicago: Mosby. pp. 299–307. doi:10.1016/B978-0-323-03470-8.00046-6. ISBN 978-0-323-03470-8.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Barral, Jean-Pierre; Crobier, Alain (2009-01-01). "9 - Manipulation of the plurineural orifices". Manual Therapy for the Cranial Nerves. Churchill Livingstone. pp. 51–57. doi:10.1016/B978-0-7020-3100-7.50012-4. ISBN 978-0-7020-3100-7.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  3. ^ Patel, Swetal (2015). "20 - The Oculomotor Nerve". Nerves and Nerve Injuries. Vol. 1: History, Embryology, Anatomy, Imaging, and Diagnostics. Academic Press. pp. 305–309. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-410390-0.00021-4. ISBN 978-0-12-410390-0.
  4. ^ synd/3387 at Who Named It?
  5. ^ A. Rochon-Duvigneaud. Quelques cas de paralysie de tous les nerfs orbitaires (ophthalmoplegie totale avec amaurosse en anesthésie dans le domaine de l’ophthalmique d’origine syphilitique). Archives d'ophthalmologie, Paris, 1896, 16: 746-760.

External links[edit]