While learning skull osteology, students often have trouble in orientating the sphenoid in relation to the other bones of the neurocranium and viscerocranium, and learning its many foraminae and features. This is perfectly understandable, as the sphenoid is an anatomically complex bone that fulfils many roles – housing the pituitary, forming part of the orbit, allowing many traversing nerves etc.
The junction with the occiput at the spheno-basilar symphysis particularly causes problems, (a common mistake is to place the basilar part of the occiput against the dorsum sellae) as well as the harmonic articulation of the pterygoid processes in the groove-like bone of the perpendicular plate of the palatine (part of the ‘speed reducers’ system as Sutherland called them).
The video above goes some way to helping us to visualise the sphenoid in situ. Labelled parts of the sphenoid are seen from 1min 33secs onwards, but for those that wish to enjoy guided tutorials on the osteology of the skull, you might like to consider taking part in our upcoming 5-day course in July (shameless plug!)
Video – YouTube: ‘Bone around Sphenoid bone’
‘Sphenoid’ Image – lithograph plate from Gray’s Anatomy – public domain – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gray145.png