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General Anatomy of Skull

Karen Denisa
• Human skull consists of about 22 to 30 single bones
• The skull is divided into :
Braincase (cerebral cranium)
Face (visceral cranium)
• The brain is almost entirely enclosed by the cerebral cranium with the
exception of the foramen (exit point of cranial nerves and blood
• Its main functions :
To protect the brain
Provides support for all the facial structures
Components & Features
• The braincase consists of the skullcap (calvaria) and the skull base
• The bones forming the calvaria are the frontal, occipital and parietal
bones. They join together, forming structures called sutures.
• Types of sutures :
 Sagittal suture (parietal-parietal)
 Coronal suture (frontal-parietal)
 Lambdoid (parietal-occipital)
 Squamous (temporal-parietal)

Sagittal Lambdoidea Coronal

Components & Features
• The skull base is the caudal boundary of the cerebral cranium
• Looking at it from the inside it can be subdivided into :
 Anterior cranial fossae
 Middle cranial fossae
 Posterior cranial fossae
• The skull base comprises parts of the frontal, ethmoid, sphenoid,
occipital and temporal bones
Components & Features
• The face is referred to as all skull bones fronto-caudally connected to
the cerebral cranium
• Prominent representatives are :
Maxilla (upper jaw)
Mandible (lower jaw)
The orbita and the nasal cavity are formed by
the zygomatic, nasal, palatine, lacrimal bones, the vomer and the inferior
nasal concha
Anterior Cranial Fossae
• The anterior cranial fossa comprises a holey plate at the center, the so
called cribriform plate (a passageway of olfactory nerve)
• The lesser wing of the sphenoid bone (ala minor) forms the dorsal
boundary of the anterior cranial fossa
 Centrally located in sphenoid bone is optic canal (passageway of optic nerve)

Anterior Fossae Lamina Cribrosa Ala Minor Optic Canal

Middle Cranial Fossae
• The middle cranial fossa lies slightly deeper than the anterior cranial fossa
• Depression in the sphenoid bone is called sella turcica
• In the center of the middle cranial fossa it forms the pituitary fossa in
which the pituitary gland sits
• The superior orbital fissure which is bounded by the greater and lesser
wings of the sphenoid bone contains :
 Trochlear nerve
 Abducens nerve
 Oculomotor nerve
 Ophthalmic nerve

Fissura Orbitalis
Middle Fossae Sella Turcica Superior
Middle Cranial Fossae
• Further important foramina are the:
Foramen rotundum (maxillary nerve)
Foramen ovale (mandibular nerve)
Carotid canal (internal carotid artery)

Carotid Canal Foramen Ovale Ala Major
Posterior Cranial Fossae
• The foramen magnum is situated in the center of the posterior cranial
• Foramen magnum is the largest opening in the skull
 Here the brainstem leaves the skull and becomes the spinal cord

Posterior Fossae Foramen Magnum

Posterior Cranial Fossae
• Further important structures in the posterior cranial :
 Internal acoustic meatus (facial nerve, vestibulocochlear nerve),
 Jugular foramen (internal jugular vein, glossopharyngeal nerve, vagus
nerve, accessory nerve)
 Hypoglossal canal (hypoglossal nerve)

Foramen Jugular Hypoglossal Canal Meatus Acusticus Internus

General Anatomy of Scalp
• The soft tissue envelope of the cranial vault is called the scalp
• The scalp extends from the external occipital protuberance and
superior nuchal lines to the supraorbital margins
• The scalp consists of 5 layers :
Connective tissue
Epicranial aponeurosis
Loose areolar tissue
• The skin of the scalp is thick and hair bearing and contains
numerous sebaceous glands
• The scalp is a common site for sebaceous cysts
Connective Tissue (Superficial Fascia)
• Fibrofatty layer that connects skin to the underlying aponeurosis of
the occipitofrontalis muscle
• Provides a passageway for nerves and blood vessels
Epicranial Aponeurosis
• Thin, tendinous structure that provides an insertion site for the
occipitofrontalis muscle
• Posterolaterally, the epicranial aponeurosis attachment extends from
the superior nuchal line to the superior temporal line
• Laterally, the epicranial aponeurosis continues as the temporal fascia
• Anteriorly, the subaponeurotic space extends to the upper eyelids
due to the lack of a bony insertion
Loose Areolar Tissue
• Areolar tissue loosely connects the epicranial aponeurosis to the
• Allows the superficial 3 layers of the scalp to move over the
• Provides a potential subaponeurotic space that allows fluids and
blood to pass from the scalp to the upper eyelids
• Periosteum of the skull bones
• Along the suture lines, the pericranium becomes continuous with the
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