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7.1E: Foramina

The human skull has numerous holes known as foramina through which cranial nerves, arteries, veins, and other structures pass.

 

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

 

Describe the purpose of foramina in the skull

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key Points

 

  • A foramen (plural: foramina ) is an opening inside the body that allows key structures to connect one part of the body to another.
  • The skull bones that contain foramina include the frontal, ethmoid, sphenoid, maxilla, palatine, temporal, and occipital.
  • There are 21 foramina in the human skull.

 

Key Terms

 

  • foramina: The openings inside the body that typically allow muscles, nerves, arteries, veins, or other structures to connect one part of the body to another.

This image details the location of foramina in the skull. Key foramina shown here include: the supraorbital foramen, optic foramen, foramen magnum, foramina of cribriform plate, foramen rotundum.

Base of the skull (upper surface): This image details the foramina of the skull.

In anatomy, a foramen is any opening. Foramina inside the body of humans and other animals typically allow muscles, nerves, arteries, veins, or other structures to connect one part of the body with another.

The human skull has numerous foramina through which cranial nerves, arteries, veins, and other structures pass. The skull bones that contain foramina include the frontal, ethmoid, sphenoid, maxilla, palatine, temporal, and occipital lobes.

Key foramina in the skull include:

  • Supraorbital foramen: Located in the frontal bone, it allows passage of the supraorbital vein, artery, and nerve into the orbit.
  • Optic foramen: Located in the sphenoid, it allows the passage of the ophthalmic artery and nerve from the optic canal into the orbit.
  • Foramen magnum: Located in the occipital bone, it allows the passage of the spinal and vertebral arteries and the spinal cord to pass from the skull into the vertebral column.
  • Foramina of cribriform plate: Located in the ethmoid bone, it allows the passage of the olfactory nerve.
  • Foramen rotundum: Located in the sphenoid bone, it allows passage of the maxillary nerve.