Petrous part of temporal bone

Assoc Prof Craig Hacking and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

The petrous part of the temporal bone (or more simply petrous temporal bone, PTB) forms the part of skull base between the sphenoid and occipital bones.

The petrous temporal bone has a pyramidal shape with an apex and a base as well as three surfaces and angles: 

  • apex (petrous apex)
    • direct medially; articulates with the posterior aspect of the greater wing of the sphenoid and basilar occiput
    • forms internal border of the carotid canal and the posterolateral boundary of the foramen lacerum
  • base
    • directed laterally and fuses with the internal surface of squama temporalis and mastoid

The petrous temporal bone has three surfaces - anterior, posterior and inferior:

  • the anterior surface forms the posterior part of the middle cranial fossa. It is continuous with the inner surface of the squamous part united by the petrosquamous suture. Near its center lies the arcuate eminence, which indicates the location of the superior semicircular canal. Lateral to the arcuate eminence is a depression which indicates the position of middle ear cavity. A shallow groove directed posterolaterally to open into the hiatus of the facial canal. Lateral to this hiatus a smaller hiatus for the lesser petrosal nerve. At the apex, the termination of the carotid canal is present.
  • the posterior surface forms the anterior part of posterior cranial fossa. It fuses with the inner surface of the mastoid. Near the center of the posterior surface is the internal acoustic meatus. Posteriorly to the internal acoustic meatus is a small slit, leading to the canal of the vestibular aqueduct.
  • the inferior surface forms part of the exterior of the base of the skull. There are a number of foramina including the inferior opening of the carotid canal and posteriorly the jugular foramen and in between a small inferior tympanic canaliculus, through which the tympanic branch of the glossopharyngeal nerve passes.  The stylomastoid foramen is situated on the inferior surface. It provides attachment to the levator veli palatini and the cartilaginous portion of the Eustachian tube

The petrous temporal bone has three angles:

Anatomy: Head and neck

Anatomy: Head and neck

Article information

rID: 28369
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • PTB
  • Petrous part of the temporal bone
  • Petrous temporal bone

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: temporal bone divisions (CT anatomy)
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  • Figure 2: diagram - temporal bone
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  • Case 1: normal CT
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  • Case 2: HRCT of petrous temporal bones
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  • Figure 3: annotated PTB
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