The Posterior Cranial Fossa
In the posterior cranial fossa there are four main openings, these are:
1- The foramen magnum
, which is the largest foramen in the posterior cranial fossa and it's located in thebasilar part of occipital bone, at the level of foramen magnum the extent of the brain stops and the spinalcord starts, the medulla oblongata (i.e. the lowest part of the brain) ends at the level of foramen magnumand the spinal cord starts there, also some important structures such as the vertebral arteries (that providesblood supply to the brain when they become cerebral arteries) pass from the foramen magnum and thespinal accessory nerve enters the foramen magnum and leave (to be mentioned later).
2- The jugular foramen
, it's located anteriolateral to the foramen magnum (jugular means related to neck),it's called the jugular foramen because one of the largest veins that passes across the neck is arrives or startsfrom the jugular foramen, this vein is the internal jugular vein (IJV), most of the veins in the neck are called jugular (now cervical is used to mean related to neck, but the name of the vein is still jugular), the vein whichis superficial is called the external jugular vein (EJV), the deep one is the internal jugular vein, the one infront is the anterior jugular vein. The jugular foramen is a large foramen relatively to the other openingsalong with the internal jugular vein, three cranial nerves pass from this foramen, namely those are thecranial nerve number nine, ten and eleven (CN IX = the glossopharyngeal nerve and from its name it goes tothe tongue and the pharynx, CN X = the vagus nerve, the wondering nerve, CN XI = the accessory nerve).
[Note: the nerves in the human body are divided into either spinal or cranial nerves, the spinal nerves arise from the spinal cord, they are thirty one (31) pairs, they form networks which are called plexuses and fromthese plexuses the real peripheral nerves start such as the radial, ulnar and the median nerve. The cranial nerves are twelve (12) pairs arising directly from the brain, but not all of them arise directly from thebrain, the only exception the cranial nerve number eleven which is the accessory nerve.]
3- The hypoglossal canal
, it's a small opening located in the anteriolateral border of foramen magnum, thehypoglossal nerve (the twelfth cranial nerve, CN XII) passes from this foramen (hypo = below, glossal =related to the tongue) this nerve goes from the brain across the hypoglossal canal and cross the neck all theway, then it makes a U-turn and ascends and gets into the oral cavity to reach the tongue from below that'swhy it's called the hypoglossal nerve since it reaches the tongue from below, this nerve innervates themuscles of the tongue (that move the tongue).
4- The internal acoustic (or auditory that means related to audio) meatus
, it's a small opening in theposterior part of petrous temporal bone which is located anterior to the jugular foramen, a meatus is not anopening like a foramen rather it's like a canal or passage way, this way (the internal acoustic meatus) passbetween the posterior cranial fossa and the inner ear (the ear is divided into the external ear that you can
The Depressions in Anatomy
1- When the depression is
, it can be either a
, the difference is that the fossa with incomplete covering (the roof or the lateral wallsare open) whereas the cavity has a complete covering, the
is located at the border of the bone whereas the fossa is located at the surface of the bone.2- When the depression is
, it can be a
(e.g. the groove that is made by the passage of the middle meningeal artery as it passes over the bone), if the linear depression becomes somewhat shallower than the groove it will be a
, it's a
communication between two spaces (e.g. the superior orbital fissure that communicates the middle cranial fossawith the orbit.