Greater petrosal and deep petrosal nerves unite in foramen lacerum to form vidian nerve which innervate lacrimal, buccal, nasopharynx, and nasal glands. Moreover, the superior part of this foramen transmits lacerum part of internal carotid artery which irrigates major part of brain. Change in the morphology of foramen lacerum may result in compression of neurovascular structures creating neurovascular complications which at times may be fatal/morbid. In addition to this, there is paucity of literature elucidating the morphology of foramen lacerum. So, the aim of the study is to describe the morphology of foramen lacerum and associated clinical significance.
The study was carried out in the Department of Anatomy, Pradesh University of Medical Sciences, Saifai, Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, India using 26 half skulls. The skulls were observed for morphological variations of foramen lacerum besides carrying out morphometry of these foramina.
Complete obliteration of foramen lacerum culminating into circular opening at its superior part bilaterally was observed in 5 skulls (19.2%). Incomplete ossification of foramen was detected in 7 skulls (26.9%). The mean diameters of carotid foramina in cases of complete obliteration were 6 mm and 7 mm on right and left sides respectively. The mean antero-posterior diameters of anterior and posterior apertures on right side were 7 and 6 mm respectively while these dimensions on left sides were 7 mm.
Due to morphological variations in foramen lacerum through partial/complete obliteration, the neurovascular structures passing through it may be squeezed leading to neurovascular complications. Thus, the study is of paramount importance to neurovascular surgeons, neuro-interventionists, and anatomists.