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What is the Palatine Bone?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2016
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The palatine bone is one of the bones of the face. In humans, this bone is found between the maxilla, or upper jawbone, and the sphenoid bone, located at the base of the skull. This location leaves the palatine bone lying at the back of the nasal cavity. The nasal cavity is a space filled with fluid and is found in the middle of the face, just behind the nose.

There are three cavities found within the skull formed in part by the palatine bone. The first of these is the nasal cavity itself, a key part of the respiratory system. This bone also contributes to the formation of the roof of the mouth as well as the bottom portion of the eye socket, referred to as the orbit of the eye.

The palatine bone also helps to form the pterygopalatine fossa as well as the pterygoid fossa. A fossa is basically a depressed area within the human body. The pterygopalatine fossa is found in the skull and is held in place by the roots of the maxillary nerve of the face. The pterygoid fossa contains two muscles known as the medial pterygoid muscle and the tensor veli palatini muscle.

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The formation of the inferior orbital fissure is also made possible in part by the palatine bone. This structure separates the wall of the eye socket from the floor of the socket. This fissure is created by the joining of the maxilla and the sphenoid bone.

Roughly shaped like the letter L, the palatine bone consists of two plates made of bone, the horizontal plate and the perpendicular plate. Three processes also help form the palatine bone: the pyramidal process, which is joined with the maxilla; the sphenoidal process, which in part forms one wall of the nasal cavity; and the orbital process, which is joined with the perpendicular plate and surrounds an air-sinus.

There are six bones that join with the palatine bone. These bones include the sphenoid, maxilla, ethmoid, vomer, inferior nasal concha, and the opposite palatine bones. Each of the bones are found in the facial area of the skull.

Traumatic injuries involving the face and head have the potential to fracture any of the bones of the skull in addition to damaging surrounding tissues. Immediate medical attention is required in such situations, as life-threatening injuries may occur. Surgery to repair the damage is common and prognosis will depend upon the extent of the damage that has been sustained as well as the individual patient's response to treatment.

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