Pterygopalatine Fossa Anatomy for a Surgical Approach to Sphenopalatine Ganglion

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The sphenopalatine ganglion is an extracranial neural structure within the pterygopalatine fossa. Modulation of this region via implantation of a neuromodulatory device presents a novel therapy for the treatment of facial and head pain. Yet sex, race, and genetic factors contribute to morphological variations between individuals. This study defines the standards and variations of the bony landmarks surrounding the pterygopalatine fossa. One hundred dry skulls were analyzed from the Hamann-Todd osteological collection. Ten anatomical dimensions were measured on each side of the face for each specimen (vidian foramen, zygomatic buttress, zygomatic maxillary suture, pyriform rim, infraorbital rim, pterygoid maxillary suture, greater palatine foramen, auditory canal, and pterygoid fossa). A statistical analysis was performed for both sides of the face based on sex and race. When stratified by sex, 7 of the 10 measurements revealed a statistically significant difference bilaterally. When stratified by race, 5 of the 10 measurements demonstrated a statistically significant difference bilaterally. Both male and African American skulls showed greater hemifacial values bilaterally when compared with their respective counterparts. The only statistically significant measurement on both the left and right sides of all skulls was the length from the vidian foramen to the infraorbital rim. Defining the anatomical mean distance between skull landmarks and highlighting differences between sex and race not only provides further insight into relative skull anatomy, but also sets the stage for device innovation.

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