Anatomy of the infratemporal fossa

00:00 / 00:00



Anatomy of the infratemporal fossa



Bones of the cranium

Anatomy of the cranial base

Anatomy of the orbit

Anatomy of the eye

Anatomy of the nose and paranasal sinuses

Anatomy of the oral cavity

Anatomy of the temporomandibular joint and muscles of mastication

Muscles of the face and scalp

Anatomy of the salivary glands

Nerves and vessels of the face and scalp

Anatomy of the tongue

Anatomy of the pterygopalatine (sphenopalatine) fossa

Anatomy of the inner ear

Anatomy of the infratemporal fossa

Anatomy clinical correlates

Anatomy clinical correlates: Skull, face and scalp

Anatomy clinical correlates: Eye

Anatomy clinical correlates: Ear

Anatomy clinical correlates: Temporal regions, oral cavity and nose



Daniel Afloarei, MD

Kaylee Neff

Elijah Lee, MScBMC

The infratemporal fossa, or IT fossa for short, is one of the most important spaces in the head, which acts as a conduit for neurovascular structures entering and exiting the cranial cavity. It contains vital structures such as the maxillary artery and mandibular nerve.

The infratemporal fossa is an irregularly shaped space located deep and inferior to the zygomatic arch, deep to the ramus of the mandible, and posterior to the maxilla.

More specifically, the fossa is bounded laterally by the the ramus of the mandible; medially by the lateral pterygoid plate; anteriorly by the posterior surface of the maxilla; posteriorly by the tympanic plate and the temporal bone’s mastoid and styloid processes; superiorly by the inferior surface of the greater wing of the sphenoid, and inferiorly by the attachment of the medial pterygoid muscle close to the angle of the mandible.

Now, the important structures within the infratemporal fossa include muscles, vessels and nerves.

The muscles of the infratemporal fossa include the inferior portion of the temporalis muscle, the medial pterygoid and lateral pterygoid muscles.

Lying either superficial or deep to the lateral pterygoid muscle, there’s the pterygoid venous plexus and the maxillary artery.

Deep to the lateral pterygoid, the otic ganglion and mandibular nerve or cranial nerve V3 are located inferior to the foramen ovale.

The mandibular nerve splits within the infratemporal fossa into branches that include the inferior alveolar, auriculotemporal, lingual, buccal, masseteric, and deep temporal nerves.


Copyright © 2023 Elsevier, except certain content provided by third parties

Cookies are used by this site.

USMLE® is a joint program of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). COMLEX-USA® is a registered trademark of The National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Inc. NCLEX-RN® is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are endorsed by nor affiliated with Osmosis or this website.