Sphenoid bone. Upper surface. (foramen ovale labeled at left, third from bottom)
Horizontal section of nasal and orbital cavities.
foramen ovale ossis sphenoidalis
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At the base of the skull the foramen ovale (Latin: oval window) is one of the larger of the several holes (the foramina) that transmit nerves through the skull. The foramen ovale is situated in the anterior part of the sphenoid bone, posteriolateral to the foramen rotundum.
Emissary veins (from the cavernous sinus to the pterygoid plexus)
The contents of this foramen neatly form the mnemonic 'MALE'.
The otic ganglion is situated directly under the foramen, but is also transmitted through the foramen ovale.
Morphology and morphometry
Similar to other foramina, the foramen ovale differs in shape and size throughout the natural life. The earliest perfect ring-shaped formation of the foramen ovale was observed in the 7th fetal month and the latest in 3 years after birth, in a study using over 350 skulls. In a study conducted on 100 skulls, the foramen ovale was divided into 2 or 3 components in 4.5% of the cases. The borders of the foramen in some skulls were also irregular and rough. This may suggest, based on radiological images, the presence of morbid changes, which might be the sole anatomical variation in the foramina ovale of humans. (Reymond et al.)
In newborn, the foramen ovale is about 3.85 mm and in the adults about 7.2 mm in length. The average maximal length is about 7.48 mm and its average minimal length is 4.17 mm in the adult. The width extends from 1.81 mm in the newborn to 3.7 mm in adults.
^ ab Yanagi S (1987). "Developmental studies on the foramen rotundum, foramen ovale and foramen spinosum of the human sphenoid bone". The Hokkaido Journal of Medical Science62 (3): 485-96. PMID 3610040.
^ Reymond J, Charuta A, Wysocki J (2005). "The morphology and morphometry of the foramina of the greater wing of the human sphenoid bone". Folia Morphologica64 (3): 188-93. PMID 16228954.
^ Lang J, Maier R, Schafhauser O (1984). "Postnatal enlargement of the foramina rotundum, ovale et spinosum and their topographical changes". Anatomischer Anzeiger156 (5): 351-87. PMID 6486466.
This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained herein may be outdated. Please edit the article if this is the case, and feel free to remove this notice when it is no longer relevant.