Foramen Rotundum

in Canal


The foramen rotundum is one of the several circular apertures (the foramina) located in the base of the skull, in the anterior and medial part of the sphenoid bone.

The maxillary nerve passes through and exits the skull via the pterygopalatine fossa and the foramen rotundum.

The mean area of the foramen/foramina rotundum is not considerable, which may suggest that it/they play(s) a minor role in the dynamics of blood circulation in the venous system of the head.

Morphology and morphometry

The foramen rotundum evolves in shape throughout the fetal period, and from birth to adolescence. It achieves a perfect ring-shaped formation in the fetus after the 4th fetal month. It is mostly oval-shaped in the fetal period, and round-shaped after birth (generally speaking). After birth, the rotundum is about 2.5 mm and in 15- to 17-year olds about 3 mm in length. The average diameter of the foramen rotundum in adults is 3.55 mm. This was according to a developmental study published in The Hokkaido Journal of Medical Science on the foramen ovale, the foramen spinosum and the foramen rotundum, and according to a study about the postnatal enlargement of the foramina rotundum, ovale and spinosum and their topographical changes published in the Anatomischer Anzeiger.

Additional images

Sphenoid bone. Upper and posterior surfaces. |

Horizontal section of nasal and orbital cavities.

Medial wall of left orbit.

See also

Foramina of skull

Foramen ovale


^ Reymond J, Charuta A, Wysocki J (2005). "The morphology and morphometry of the foramina of the greater wing of the human sphenoid bone". Folia Morphologica 64 (3): 18893. PMID 16228954. 

^ Yanagi S (1987). "Developmental studies on the foramen rotundum, foramen ovale and foramen spinosum of the human sphenoid bone". The Hokkaido Journal of Medical Science 62 (3): 48596. PMID 3610040. 

^ Lang J, Maier R, Schafhauser O (1984). "Postnatal enlargement of the foramina rotundum, ovale et spinosum and their topographical changes". Anatomischer Anzeiger 156 (5): 35187. PMID 6486466. 

External links

SUNY Labs 22:os-0905

cranialnerves at The Anatomy Lesson by Wesley Norman (Georgetown University) (V)

Foramen+rotundum at eMedicine Dictionary

Superior view of the base of the skull at

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Bones of head and neck: the neurocranium of the skull (TA A02.1.01-07, GA 2.129-155)



external (Inion/External occipital protuberance, Nuchal lines)  planes (Occipital, Nuchal)  internal (Cruciform eminence, Internal occipital protuberance, Sagittal sulcus, Internal occipital crest)

Lateral parts

Condyle (Condyloid fossa, Condylar canal)  Hypoglossal canal  jugular (Jugular process, Jugular tubercle)

Basilar part

Pharyngeal tubercle


Foramen magnum (Basion, Opisthion)


Parietal eminence  Temporal line  Parietal foramen



Frontal suture  Frontal eminence  external (Superciliary arches, Glabella)  foramina (Supraorbital, Cecum)  Zygomatic process  internal (Sagittal sulcus, Frontal crest)

Orbital part

Ethmoidal notch  Lacrimal fossa  Trochlear fovea  Frontal sinus  Frontonasal duct



Articular tubercle  Suprameatal triangle  Mandibular fossa  Petrotympanic fissure  Zygomatic process

Mastoid part

Mastoid foramen  Mastoid process (Mastoid cells)  Mastoid notch  Occipital groove  Sigmoid sulcus  Mastoid antrum (Aditus)

Petrous part

Carotid canal  Facial canal (Hiatus)  Internal auditory meatus  Cochlear aqueduct  Stylomastoid foramen

fossae (Subarcuate fossa, Jugular fossa)  canaliculi (Inferior tympanic, Mastoid)  Styloid process  Petrosquamous suture

(note: ossicles in petrous part, but not part of temporal bone)

Tympanic part

Suprameatal spine



Superior surface: Sella turcica (Dorsum sellae, Tuberculum sellae, Hypophysial fossa, Posterior clinoid processes)  Ethmoidal spine  Chiasmatic groove  Middle clinoid process  Petrosal process  Clivus

Lateral surface: Carotid groove  Sphenoidal lingula

Anterior surface: Sphenoidal sinuses

Great wings

foramina (Rotundum, Ovale, Vesalii, Spinosum)  Spine  Infratemporal crest  Sulcus for auditory tube

Small wings

Superior orbital fissure  Anterior clinoid process  Optic canal



fossae (Pterygoid, Scaphoid)  pterygoid plates (Lateral, Medial)  Pterygoid canal  Hamulus


Body  Sphenoidal conchae



Cribriform plate (Crista galli, Olfactory foramina)  Perpendicular plate


Lateral surface Orbital lamina  Uncinate process

Medial surface Superior nasal concha  Superior meatus  Middle nasal concha  Middle meatus


Ethmoid sinus  ethmoidal foramina (Posterior, Anterior)

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Bones of head and neck: Foramina of the skull (and canals, fissures, meati, and hiati) (TA A02.1.00.053-097, GA 2.178-199)

Anterior cranial fossa

to Orbit: ethmoidal foramina (anterior, posterior)

to Nasal cavity: olfactory foramina (CN-I)  foramen cecum

Middle cranial fossa

to Orbit: optic canal (CN-II)  superior orbital fissure (CN-III,IV,V1,VI)

to Pterygopalatine fossa: foramen rotundum (CN-V2)  pterygoid canal

to Infratemporal fossa: foramen ovale (CN-V3)  foramen spinosum/carotid canal

other: foramen lacerum  hiatus for greater petrosal nerve  hiatus for lesser petrosal nerve  sphenoidal emissary foramen

Posterior cranial fossa

internal auditory meatus/facial canal/stylomastoid foramen (CN-VII,VIII)  jugular foramen (CN-IX,X,XI)  foramen magnum (CN-XI)  hypoglossal canal (CN-XII)  condylar canal  mastoid foramen


to Nasal cavity: nasolacrimal canal

to Face: supraorbital (notch, foramen)  infraorbital (foramen, groove)  zygomatic foramen (-facial, -temporal)

to Pterygopalatine fossa: inferior orbital fissure

Pterygopalatine fossa

to Nasal cavity: sphenopalatine foramen

to Oral cavity: greater palatine canal/greater palatine foramen  lesser palatine canals/lesser palatine foramina

to Infratemporal fossa: pterygomaxillary fissure

to Nasopharynx: palatovaginal canal

Nasal cavity

to Oral cavity: incisive canals  incisive foramen


external acoustic meatus  mandibular foramen  mental foramen  parietal foramen  petrotympanic fissure  semilunar hiatus

Categories: Foramina of the skullHidden categories: Wikipedia articles incorporating text from public domain editions of Gray's Anatomy

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Foramen Rotundum

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This article was published on 2010/10/09