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Sphenoidal sinus

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Title: Sphenoidal sinus  
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Subject: Ethmoid sinus, Sphenoid bone, Body of sphenoid bone, Sphenoethmoidal recess, Frontonasal duct
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Sphenoidal sinus

Sphenoidal sinuses
Lateral wall of nasal cavity; the three nasal conchæ have been removed. (Sphenoidal sinus visible at upper right, in dark circle.)
Nose and nasal cavities. (Sphenoid sinus labeled at upper right.)
Latin sinus sphenoidalis
posterior ethmoidal nerves, and orbital branches of the pterygopalatine ganglion
Gray's p.998
MeSH A04.531.621.827
Anatomical terms of bone

Each of the paired sphenoidal sinuses (components of the paranasal sinuses) is contained within the body of the sphenoid. They vary in size and shape and owing to the lateral displacement of the intervening septum they are rarely symmetrical. They cannot be palpated during an extraoral examination.[1]

The following are their average measurements: vertical height, 2.2 cm.; transverse breadth, 2 cm.; antero-posterior depth, 2.2 cm.


  • Relations 1
  • Development 2
  • Innervation 3
  • Complications 4
  • Use in neurosurgery 5
  • Additional images 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


When exceptionally large they may extend into the roots of the pterygoid processes or great wings, and may invade the basilar part of the occipital bone.

Each sinus opens into the roof of the nasal cavity via apertures on the posterior wall of the sphenoethmoidal recess directly above the choana. The apertures are located high on the anterior walls of the sinuses themselves.[2]


They are present as very small cavities at birth, but their main development takes place after puberty.[2]


The mucous membrane receives sensory innervation by the posterior ethmoidal nerves, and postganglionic parasympathetic fibers of the facial nerve that synapsed at the pterygopalatine ganglion which control secretion of mucous.


If the tumor spreads laterally, the cavernous sinus and all its constituent nerves could be in danger.

Use in neurosurgery

Because only thin shelves of bone separate the sphenoidal sinuses from the nasal cavities below and hypophyseal fossa above, the pituitary gland can be surgically approached through the roof of the nasal cavities by first passing through the anterioinferior aspect of the sphenoid bone and into the sinuses, followed by entry through the top of the sphenoid bone into the hypophyseal fossa.

Additional images

See also


  1. ^ Illustrated Anatomy of the Head and Neck, Fehrenbach and Herring, Elsevier, 2012, page 64
  2. ^ a b Human Anatomy, Jacob, Elsevier, 2008, page 211

External links

  • Sphenoid Sinus
  • Anatomy photo:33:st-0712 at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • lesson9 at The Anatomy Lesson by Wesley Norman (Georgetown University) (latnasalwall3)

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

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