Foramen Ovale – Location, Anatomy and Structures passing through it


Foramen Ovale Definition: Foramen Ovale is a foramen in the greater wing of sphenoid bone, and it gets its name from the latin word Ovale, which means oval window. It is one of the two foramens of the greater wing, alongside foramen spinosum.

Where is Foramen Ovale located?

The foramen is located in the middle cranial fossa, at the posterior base of greater wing of sphenoid bone. It is present lateral to lingula, and posterolateral to foramen rotundum, and anteromedial to foramen spinosum.

Foramen Ovale

Structures passing through Foramen Ovale

To remember it easily, here is the short form – “MALEO”

  • Mandibular nerve – V3, third branch of trigeminal nerve
  • Accessory meningeal artery
  • Lesser petrosal nerve, which is a brand of glossopharyngeal nerve
  • Emissary vein from cavernous sinus to pterygoid plexus
  • Otic ganglion that is situated just under the foramen ovale is transmitted through the same foramen

Another easy way to remember is its name itself (Otic ganglion, V3, Accessory meningeal artery, Lesser petrosal nerve, Emissary vein). It is said that occasionally, the anterior trunk of middle meningeal artery passes through foramen ovale.

In newborns, the foramen ovale is about 3.85mm in length, while it is 7.2mm in length in adults.

Learn about the other foramina of skullForamen magnum, foramen lacerum, foramen spinosum, infra orbital foramen and supra orbital foramen.

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