Reference > Anatomy of the Human Body > II. Osteology > 5b. 5. The Palatine Bone
Henry Gray (1821–1865).  Anatomy of the Human Body.  1918.
5b. 5. The Palatine Bone
(Os Palatinum; Palate Bone)

The palatine bone is situated at the back part of the nasal cavity between the maxilla and the pterygoid process of the sphenoid (Fig. 167). It contributes to the walls of three cavities: the floor and lateral wall of the nasal cavity, the roof of the mouth, and the floor of the orbit; it enters into the formation of two fossæ, the pterygopalatine and pterygoid fossæ; and one fissure, the inferior orbital fissure. The palatine bone somewhat resembles the letter L, and consists of a horizontal and a vertical part and three outstanding processes—viz., the pyramidal process, which is directed backward and lateralward from the junction of the two parts, and the orbital and sphenoidal processes, which surmount the vertical part, and are separated by a deep notch, the sphenopalatine notch.
The Horizontal Part (pars horizontalis; horizontal plate) (Figs. 168, 169).—The horizontal part is quadrilateral, and has two surfaces and four borders.   2
Surfaces.—The superior surface, concave from side to side, forms the back part of the floor of the nasal cavity. The inferior surface, slightly concave and rough, forms, with the corresponding surface of the opposite bone, the posterior fourth of the hard palate. Near its posterior margin may be seen a more or less marked transverse ridge for the attachment of part of the aponeurosis of the Tensor veli palatini.   3

FIG. 168– Left palatine bone. Nasal aspect. Enlarged. (See enlarged image)

FIG. 169– Left palatine bone. Posterior aspect. Enlarged. (See enlarged image)
Borders.—The anterior border is serrated, and articulates with the palatine process of the maxilla. The posterior border is concave, free, and serves for the attachment of the soft palate. Its medial end is sharp and pointed, and, when united with that of the opposite bone, forms a projecting process, the posterior nasal spine for the attachment of the Musculus uvulæ. The lateral border is united with the lower margin of the perpendicular part, and is grooved by the lower end of the pterygopalatine canal. The medial border, the thickest, is serrated for articulation with its fellow of the opposite side; its superior edge is raised into a ridge, which, united with the ridge of the opposite bone, forms the nasal crest for articulation with the posterior part of the lower edge of the vomer.   4
The Vertical Part (pars perpendicularis; perpendicular plate) (Figs. 168, 169).—The vertical part is thin, of an oblong form, and presents two surfaces and four borders.   5
Surfaces.—The nasal surface exhibits at its lower part a broad, shallow depression, which forms part of the inferior meatus of the nose. Immediately above this is a well-marked horizontal ridge, the conchal crest, for articulation with the inferior nasal concha; still higher is a second broad, shallow depression, which forms part of the middle meatus, and is limited above by a horizontal crest less prominent than the inferior, the ethmoidal crest, for articulation with the middle nasal concha. Above the ethmoidal crest is a narrow, horizontal groove, which forms part of the superior meatus.   6
  The maxillary surface is rough and irregular throughout the greater part of its extent, for articulation with the nasal surface of the maxilla; its upper and back part is smooth where it enters into the formation of the pterygopalatine fossa; it is also smooth in front, where it forms the posterior part of the medial wall of the maxillary sinus. On the posterior part of this surface is a deep vertical groove, converted into the pterygopalatine canal, by articulation with the maxilla; this canal transmits the descending palatine vessels, and the anterior palatine nerve.   7
Borders.—The anterior border is thin and irregular; opposite the conchal crest is a pointed, projecting lamina, the maxillary process, which is directed forward, and closes in the lower and back part of the opening of the maxillary sinus. The posterior border (Fig. 169) presents a deep groove, the edges of which are serrated for articulation with the medial pterygoid plate of the sphenoid. This border is continuous above with the sphenoidal process; below it expands into the pyramidal process. The superior border supports the orbital process in front and the sphenoidal process behind. These processes are separated by the sphenopalatine notch, which is converted into the sphenopalatine foramen by the under surface of the body of the sphenoid. In the articulated skull this foramen leads from the pterygopalatine fossa into the posterior part of the superior meatus of the nose, and transmits the sphenopalatine vessels and the superior nasal and nasopalatine nerves. The inferior border is fused with the lateral edge of the horizontal part, and immediately in front of the pyramidal process is grooved by the lower end of the pterygopalatine canal.   8
The Pyramidal Process or Tuberosity (processus pyramidalis).—The pyramidal process projects backward and lateralward from the junction of the horizontal and vertical parts, and is received into the angular interval between the lower extremities of the pterygoid plates. On its posterior surface is a smooth, grooved, triangular area, limited on either side by a rough articular furrow. The furrows articulate with the pterygoid plates, while the grooved intermediate area completes the lower part of the pterygoid fossa and gives origin to a few fibers of the Pterygoideus internus. The anterior part of the lateral surface is rough, for articulation with the tuberosity of the maxilla; its posterior part consists of a smooth triangular area which appears, in the articulated skull, between the tuberosity of the maxilla and the lower part of the lateral pterygoid plate, and completes the lower part of the infratemporal fossa. On the base of the pyramidal process, close to its union with the horizontal part, are the lesser palatine foramina for the transmission of the posterior and middle palatine nerves.   9
The Orbital Process (processus orbitalis).—The orbital process is placed on a higher level than the sphenoidal, and is directed upward and lateralward from the front of the vertical part, to which it is connected by a constricted neck. It presents five surfaces, which enclose an air cell. Of these surfaces, three are articular and two non-articular. The articular surfaces are: (1) the anterior or maxillary, directed forward, lateralward, and downward, of an oblong form, and rough for articulation with the maxilla; (2) the posterior or sphenoidal, directed backward, upward, and medialward; it presents the opening of the air cell, which usually communicates with the sphenoidal sinus; the margins of the opening are serrated for articulation with the sphenoidal concha; (3) the medial or ethmoidal, directed forward, articulates with the labyrinth of the ethmoid. In some cases the air cell opens on this surface of the bone and then communicates with the posterior ethmoidal cells. More rarely it opens on both surfaces, and then communicates with the posterior ethmoidal cells and the sphenoidal sinus. The non-articular surfaces are: (1) the superior or orbital, directed upward and lateralward; it is triangular in shape, and forms the back part of the floor of the orbit; and (2) the lateral, of an oblong form, directed toward the pterygopalatine fossa; it is separated from the orbital surface by a rounded border, which enters into the formation of the inferior orbital fissure.   10
The Sphenoidal Process (processus sphenoidalis).—The sphenoidal process is a thin, compressed plate, much smaller than the orbital, and directed upward and medialward. It presents three surfaces and two borders. The superior surface articulates with the root of the pterygoid process and the under surface of the sphenoidal concha, its medial border reaching as far as the ala of the vomer; it presents a groove which contributes to the formation of the pharyngeal canal. The medial surface is concave, and forms part of the lateral wall of the nasal cavity. The lateral surface is divided into an articular and a non-articular portion: the former is rough, for articulation with the medial pterygoid plate; the latter is smooth, and forms part of the pterygopalatine fossa. The anterior border forms the posterior boundary of the sphenopalatine notch. The posterior border, serrated at the expense of the outer table, articulates with the medial pterygoid plate.   11
  The orbital and sphenoidal processes are separated from one another by the sphenopalatine notch. Sometimes the two processes are united above, and form between them a complete foramen (Fig. 168), or the notch may be crossed by one or more spicules of bone, giving rise to two or more foramina.   12
Ossification.—The palatine bone is ossified in membrane from a single center, which makes its appearance about the sixth or eighth week of fetal life at the angle of junction of the two parts of the bone. From this point ossification spreads medialward to the horizontal part, downward into the pyramidal process, and upward into the vertical part. Some authorities describe the bone as ossifying from four centers: one for the pyramidal process and portion of the vertical part behind the pterygopalatine groove; a second for the rest of the vertical and the horizontal parts; a third for the orbital, and a fourth for the sphenoidal process. At the time of birth the height of the vertical part is about equal to the transverse width of the horizontal part, whereas in the adult the former measures about twice as much as the latter.   13
Articulations.—The palatine articulates with six bones: the sphenoid, ethmoid, maxilla, inferior nasal concha, vomer, and opposite palatine.   14


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