Anterior cranial fossa

  • The anterior cranial fossa (latin: fossa cranii anterior) lies at the highest level of the internal cranial base and is formed by the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone, the orbital plate of the frontal bone and the lesser wings of the sphenoid.

    The anterior cranial fossa is bounded anteriorly and laterally by the frontal bone, inferiorly by the orbital plate of the frontal bone, the cribriform plate and crista galli of the ethmoid bone, and by the lesser wings and the anterior aspect of the body of the sphenoid.

    Borders

    The borders of the anterior cranial fossa are the following:

    • anterior and lateral: inner surface of the frontal bone;
    • posteromedial: limbus of the sphenoid bone;
    • posterolateral: lesser wings of the sphenoid bone;
    • inferior: orbital plate of the frontal bone, cribriform plate and crista galli of the ethmoid bone, anterior aspects of the body and lesser wings of the sphenoid bone.

    Contents

    The anterior cranial fossa contains the following parts of the brain:

    • frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex,
    • olfactory bulb,
    • olfactory tract,
    • orbital gyri.

    Openings

    There are several openings connecting the anterior cranial fossa with other parts of the skull, and these are the following:

    • anterior ethmoidal foramen,
    • cribriform foramina.

    The paired anterior ethmoidal foramen connects the anterior cranial fossa with each orbit and transmits the anterior ethmoidal artery, nerve and vein.

    The cribriform foramina are the openings in the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone, which connect the anterior cranial fossa with the nasal cavity and transmit the olfactory nerves.