Anatomical relationship between the foramen ovale and the lateral plate of the pterygoid process: application to percutaneous treatments of trigeminal neuralgia

Neurosurgical Review (2022) 45:2193–2199

Our aim was to clarify the variations in the positional relationship between the base of the lateral plate of the pterygoid process and the foramen ovale (FO), which block inserted needles during percutaneous procedures to the FO usually used for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia.

Ninety skulls were examined. The horizontal relationship between the FO and the posterior border of the base of the lateral plate of the pterygoid process was observed in an inferior view of the skull base. Skulls that showed injury to either the FO or the lateral plate of the pterygoid process on either side were excluded.

One hundred and sixty sides of eighty skulls were eligible. The relationship between the FO and the posterior border of the base of the lateral plate was classified into four types. Among the 160 sides, type III (direct type) was the most common (35%), followed by type I (lateral type, 29%) and type IV (removed type, 21%); type II (medial type) was the least common (15%). Of the 80 specimens, 53 showed the same type bilaterally.

In type IV, the posterior border of the base of the lateral plate is disconnected from the FO, so percutaneous procedures for treating trigeminal neuralgia could fail in patients with this type.