Anatomy of Vital Contents of Infratemporal Fossa: their Variations, Clinical and Surgical Significance - A literature review

Krishnaraj Somayaji1, Vincent Rodrigues2, Naveen Kumar3, Ashwini Aithal P4, Mohandas Rao KG4, *
1 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India
2 Department of Preclinical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
3 Department of Anatomy, RAK Medical and Health Sciences University, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
4 Department of Anatomy, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India



The infratemporal fossa is an anatomically complex and pathologically interesting region in the head and neck. Location and clinically significant vital structures in it make infratemporal fossa an area of interest to neurosurgeons specializing in skull base surgery, and maxillofacial surgeons. Although a variety of surgical approaches like endonasal, zygomatico-transmandibular, transzygomatic, transmaxillary, and facial translocation to this region have been developed, the surgical anatomy of this region is complex and remains challenging for most of the practitioners. Compilation of case reports on anatomical variations of the infratemporal fossa contents and comprehensive discussion concerning their clinical and surgical significance is lacking.


To highlight the normal and abnormal anatomy of the contents of infratemporal fossa with emphasis on clinical importance of these structures.


Articles from peer-reviewed journals and reputed standard textbooks were searched online using appropriate key words and only the articles which were deemed relevant were selected for further review.


Out of about 400 research articles, only 77 articles identified to be appropriate to the objectives were used in this literature review.


Anatomical location and presence of functionally and clinically vital structures make the infratemporal fossa very important for dentists, otolaryngologists, neurosurgeons and maxillofacial surgeons. Knowledge of normal and variant anatomy of this area is very crucial for surgically handling the various complications like hearing loss, facial nerve weakness, temporomandibular joint dysfunction etc during various surgical procedures.

Keywords: Lateral pterygoid, Maxillary artery, Mandibular nerve, Lingual nerve, Inferior alveolar nerve, Pterygomandibular space.

Abstract Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2022
Volume: 16
DOI: 10.2174/18742106-v16-e220802-2022-16

Article History:

Electronic publication date: 2/8/2022
Collection year: 2022

© 2022 Somayaji et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Anatomy, Melaka Manipal Medical College (Manipal Campus), Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India; Tel: +919741988839; E-mail: