Module 22: The Axial Skeleton

Lesson 5: The Skull: Cranial Fossae

Hộp Sọ: Hố Sọ

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Mỗi bài học (lesson) bao gồm 4 phần chính: Thuật ngữ, Luyện Đọc, Luyện Nghe, và Bàn Luận.
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Dưới đây là danh sách những thuật ngữ Y khoa của module The Axial Skeleton.
Khái quát được số lượng thuật ngữ sẽ xuất hiện trong bài đọc và nghe sẽ giúp bạn thoải mái tiêu thụ nội dung hơn. Sau khi hoàn thành nội dung đọc và nghe, bạn hãy quay lại đây và luyện tập (practice) để quen dần các thuật ngữ này. Đừng ép bản thân phải nhớ các thuật ngữ này vội vì bạn sẽ gặp và ôn lại danh sách này trong những bài học (lesson) khác của cùng một module.

Medical Terminology: The Axial Skeleton

articular cartilage
thin layer of cartilage covering an epiphysis; reduces friction and acts as a shock absorber
where two bone surfaces meet
hard, dense connective tissue that forms the structural elements of the skeleton
(singular = canaliculus) channels within the bone matrix that house one of an osteocyte’s many cytoplasmic extensions that it uses to communicate and receive nutrients
semi-rigid connective tissue found on the skeleton in areas where flexibility and smooth surfaces support movement
central canal
longitudinal channel in the center of each osteon; contains blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatic vessels; also known as the Haversian canal
closed reduction
manual manipulation of a broken bone to set it into its natural position without surgery
compact bone
dense osseous tissue that can withstand compressive forces
tubular shaft that runs between the proximal and distal ends of a long bone
layer of spongy bone, that is sandwiched between two the layers of compact bone found in flat bones
endochondral ossification
process in which bone forms by replacing hyaline cartilage
delicate membranous lining of a bone’s medullary cavity
epiphyseal line
completely ossified remnant of the epiphyseal plate
epiphyseal plate
(also, growth plate) sheet of hyaline cartilage in the metaphysis of an immature bone; replaced by bone tissue as the organ grows in length
wide section at each end of a long bone; filled with spongy bone and red marrow
external callus
collar of hyaline cartilage and bone that forms around the outside of a fracture
flat bone
thin and curved bone; serves as a point of attachment for muscles and protects internal organs
broken bone
fracture hematoma
blood clot that forms at the site of a broken bone
production of blood cells, which occurs in the red marrow of the bones
opening or depression in a bone
condition characterized by abnormally high levels of calcium
condition characterized by abnormally low levels of calcium
internal callus
fibrocartilaginous matrix, in the endosteal region, between the two ends of a broken bone
intramembranous ossification
process by which bone forms directly from mesenchymal tissue
irregular bone
bone of complex shape; protects internal organs from compressive forces
(singular = lacuna) spaces in a bone that house an osteocyte
long bone
cylinder-shaped bone that is longer than it is wide; functions as a lever
medullary cavity
hollow region of the diaphysis; filled with yellow marrow
process, during bone growth, by which bone is resorbed on one surface of a bone and deposited on another
nutrient foramen
small opening in the middle of the external surface of the diaphysis, through which an artery enters the bone to provide nourishment
open reduction
surgical exposure of a bone to reset a fracture
doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders and injuries
osseous tissue
bone tissue; a hard, dense connective tissue that forms the structural elements of the skeleton
(also, osteogenesis) bone formation
ossification center
cluster of osteoblasts found in the early stages of intramembranous ossification
cell responsible for forming new bone
cell responsible for resorbing bone
primary cell in mature bone; responsible for maintaining the matrix
osteogenic cell
undifferentiated cell with high mitotic activity; the only bone cells that divide; they differentiate and develop into osteoblasts
uncalcified bone matrix secreted by osteoblasts
(also, Haversian system) basic structural unit of compact bone; made of concentric layers of calcified matrix
disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass; occurs when the rate of bone resorption exceeds the rate of bone formation, a common occurrence as the body ages
perforating canal
(also, Volkmann’s canal) channel that branches off from the central canal and houses vessels and nerves that extend to the periosteum and endosteum
membrane that covers cartilage
fibrous membrane covering the outer surface of bone and continuous with ligaments
primary ossification center
region, deep in the periosteal collar, where bone development starts during endochondral ossification
bone markings where part of the surface sticks out above the rest of the surface, where tendons and ligaments attach
proliferative zone
region of the epiphyseal plate that makes new chondrocytes to replace those that die at the diaphyseal end of the plate and contributes to longitudinal growth of the epiphyseal plate
red marrow
connective tissue in the interior cavity of a bone where hematopoiesis takes place
process by which osteoclasts resorb old or damaged bone at the same time as and on the same surface where osteoblasts form new bone to replace that which is resorbed
reserve zone
region of the epiphyseal plate that anchors the plate to the osseous tissue of the epiphysis
secondary ossification center
region of bone development in the epiphyses
sesamoid bone
small, round bone embedded in a tendon; protects the tendon from compressive forces
short bone
cube-shaped bone that is approximately equal in length, width, and thickness; provides limited motion
skeletal system
organ system composed of bones and cartilage that provides for movement, support, and protection
spongy bone
(also, cancellous bone) trabeculated osseous tissue that supports shifts in weight distribution
(singular = trabecula) spikes or sections of the lattice-like matrix in spongy bone
yellow marrow
connective tissue in the interior cavity of a bone where fat is stored
zone of calcified matrix
region of the epiphyseal plate closest to the diaphyseal end; functions to connect the epiphyseal plate to the diaphysis
zone of maturation and hypertrophy
region of the epiphyseal plate where chondrocytes from the proliferative zone grow and mature and contribute to the longitudinal growth of the epiphyseal plate
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Inside the skull, the floor of the cranial cavity is subdivided into three cranial fossae (spaces), which increase in depth from anterior to posterior (see Figure 1, Figure 2b, and Figure 3). Since the brain occupies these areas, the shape of each conforms to the shape of the brain regions that it contains. Each cranial fossa has anterior and posterior boundaries and is divided at the midline into right and left areas by a significant bony structure or opening.
The anterior cranial fossa is the most anterior and the shallowest of the three cranial fossae. It overlies the orbits and contains the frontal lobes of the brain. Anteriorly, the anterior fossa is bounded by the frontal bone, which also forms the majority of the floor for this space. The lesser wings of the sphenoid bone form the prominent ledge that marks the boundary between the anterior and middle cranial fossae. Located in the floor of the anterior cranial fossa at the midline is a portion of the ethmoid bone, consisting of the upward projecting crista galli and to either side of this, the cribriform plates.
The middle cranial fossa is deeper and situated posterior to the anterior fossa. It extends from the lesser wings of the sphenoid bone anteriorly, to the petrous ridges (petrous portion of the temporal bones) posteriorly. The large, diagonally positioned petrous ridges give the middle cranial fossa a butterfly shape, making it narrow at the midline and broad laterally. The temporal lobes of the brain occupy this fossa. The middle cranial fossa is divided at the midline by the upward bony prominence of the sella turcica, a part of the sphenoid bone. The middle cranial fossa has several openings for the passage of blood vessels and cranial nerves (see Figure 2).

Openings in the middle cranial fossa are as follows:

  • Optic canal—This opening is located at the anterior lateral corner of the sella turcica. It provides for passage of the optic nerve into the orbit.
  • Superior orbital fissure—This large, irregular opening into the posterior orbit is located on the anterior wall of the middle cranial fossa, lateral to the optic canal and under the projecting margin of the lesser wing of the sphenoid bone. Nerves to the eyeball and associated muscles, and sensory nerves to the forehead pass through this opening.
  • Foramen rotundum—This rounded opening (rotundum = “round”) is located in the floor of the middle cranial fossa, just inferior to the superior orbital fissure. It is the exit point for a major sensory nerve that supplies the cheek, nose, and upper teeth.
  • Foramen ovale of the middle cranial fossa—This large, oval-shaped opening in the floor of the middle cranial fossa provides passage for a major sensory nerve to the lateral head, cheek, chin, and lower teeth.
  • Foramen spinosum—This small opening, located posterior-lateral to the foramen ovale, is the entry point for an important artery that supplies the covering layers surrounding the brain. The branching pattern of this artery forms readily visible grooves on the internal surface of the skull and these grooves can be traced back to their origin at the foramen spinosum.
  • Carotid canal—This is the zig-zag passageway through which a major artery to the brain enters the skull. The entrance to the carotid canal is located on the inferior aspect of the skull, anteromedial to the styloid process (see Figure 2a). From here, the canal runs anteromedially within the bony base of the skull. Just above the foramen lacerum, the carotid canal opens into the middle cranial cavity, near the posterior-lateral base of the sella turcica.
  • Foramen lacerum—This irregular opening is located in the base of the skull, immediately inferior to the exit of the carotid canal. This opening is an artifact of the dry skull, because in life it is completely filled with cartilage. All the openings of the skull that provide for passage of nerves or blood vessels have smooth margins; the word lacerum (“ragged” or “torn”) tells us that this opening has ragged edges and thus nothing passes through it.
The posterior cranial fossa is the most posterior and deepest portion of the cranial cavity. It contains the cerebellum of the brain. The posterior fossa is bounded anteriorly by the petrous ridges, while the occipital bone forms the floor and posterior wall. It is divided at the midline by the large foramen magnum (“great aperture”), the opening that provides for passage of the spinal cord.

Located on the medial wall of the petrous ridge in the posterior cranial fossa is the internal acoustic meatus (see Figure 3). This opening provides for passage of the nerve from the hearing and equilibrium organs of the inner ear, and the nerve that supplies the muscles of the face. Located at the anterior-lateral margin of the foramen magnum is the hypoglossal canal. These emerge on the inferior aspect of the skull at the base of the occipital condyle and provide passage for an important nerve to the tongue.

Immediately inferior to the internal acoustic meatus is the large, irregularly shaped jugular foramen (see Figure 2a). Several cranial nerves from the brain exit the skull via this opening. It is also the exit point through the base of the skull for all the venous return blood leaving the brain. The venous structures that carry blood inside the skull form large, curved grooves on the inner walls of the posterior cranial fossa, which terminate at each jugular foramen.

OpenStax. (2022). Anatomy and Physiology 2e. Rice University. Retrieved June 15, 2023. ISBN-13: 978-1-711494-06-7 (Hardcover) ISBN-13: 978-1-711494-05-0 (Paperback) ISBN-13: 978-1-951693-42-8 (Digital). License: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). Access for free at

The bones of the brain case surround and protect the brain, which occupies the cranial cavity. The base of the brain case, which forms the floor of cranial cavity, is subdivided into the shallow anterior cranial fossa, the middle cranial fossa, and the deep posterior cranial fossa.

(a) The hard palate is formed anteriorly by the palatine processes of the maxilla bones and posteriorly by the horizontal plate of the palatine bones. (b) The complex floor of the cranial cavity is formed by the frontal, ethmoid, sphenoid, temporal, and occipital bones. The lesser wing of the sphenoid bone separates the anterior and middle cranial fossae. The petrous ridge (petrous portion of temporal bone) separates the middle and posterior cranial fossae.

This midline view of the sagittally sectioned skull shows the nasal septum.

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  1. The skull consists of the brain case and the facial bones.
  2. The brain case surrounds and protects the brain, which occupies the cranial cavity inside the skull.
  3. It consists of the rounded calvaria and a complex base.
  4. The brain case is formed by eight bones, the paired parietal and temporal bones plus the unpaired frontal, occipital, sphenoid, and ethmoid bones.
  5. The narrow gap between the bones is filled with dense, fibrous connective tissue that unites the bones.
  6. The sagittal suture joins the right and left parietal bones.
  7. The coronal suture joins the parietal bones to the frontal bone, the lambdoid suture joins them to the occipital bone, and the squamous suture joins them to the temporal bone.
  8. The facial bones support the facial structures and form the upper and lower jaws.
  9. These consist of 14 bones, with the paired maxillary, palatine, zygomatic, nasal, lacrimal, and inferior conchae bones and the unpaired vomer and mandible bones.
  10. The ethmoid bone also contributes to the formation of facial structures.
  11. The maxilla forms the upper jaw and the mandible forms the lower jaw.
  12. The maxilla also forms the larger anterior portion of the hard palate, which is completed by the smaller palatine bones that form the posterior portion of the hard palate.
  13. The floor of the cranial cavity increases in depth from front to back and is divided into three cranial fossae.
  14. The anterior cranial fossa is located between the frontal bone and lesser wing of the sphenoid bone.
  15. A small area of the ethmoid bone, consisting of the crista galli and cribriform plates, is located at the midline of this fossa.
  16. The middle cranial fossa extends from the lesser wing of the sphenoid bone to the petrous ridge (petrous portion of temporal bone).
  17. The right and left sides are separated at the midline by the sella turcica, which surrounds the shallow hypophyseal fossa.
  18. Openings through the skull in the floor of the middle fossa include the optic canal and superior orbital fissure, which open into the posterior orbit, the foramen rotundum, foramen ovale, and foramen spinosum, and the exit of the carotid canal with its underlying foramen lacerum.
  19. The deep posterior cranial fossa extends from the petrous ridge to the occipital bone.
  20. Openings here include the large foramen magnum, plus the internal acoustic meatus, jugular foramina, and hypoglossal canals.
  21. Additional openings located on the external base of the skull include the stylomastoid foramen and the entrance to the carotid canal.
  22. The anterior skull has the orbits that house the eyeballs and associated muscles.
  23. The walls of the orbit are formed by contributions from seven bones: the frontal, zygomatic, maxillary, palatine, ethmoid, lacrimal, and sphenoid.
  24. Located at the superior margin of the orbit is the supraorbital foramen, and below the orbit is the infraorbital foramen.
  25. The mandible has two openings, the mandibular foramen on its inner surface and the mental foramen on its external surface near the chin.
  26. The nasal conchae are bony projections from the lateral walls of the nasal cavity.
  27. The large inferior nasal concha is an independent bone, while the middle and superior conchae are parts of the ethmoid bone.
  28. The nasal septum is formed by the perpendicular plate of the ethmoid bone, the vomer bone, and the septal cartilage.
  29. The paranasal sinuses are air-filled spaces located within the frontal, maxillary, sphenoid, and ethmoid bones.
  30. On the lateral skull, the zygomatic arch consists of two parts, the temporal process of the zygomatic bone anteriorly and the zygomatic process of the temporal bone posteriorly.
  31. The temporal fossa is the shallow space located on the lateral skull above the level of the zygomatic arch.
  32. The infratemporal fossa is located below the zygomatic arch and deep to the ramus of the mandible.
  33. The hyoid bone is located in the upper neck and does not join with any other bone.
  34. It is held in position by muscles and serves to support the tongue above, the larynx below, and the pharynx posteriorly.
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