, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 184-191
Date: 09 Apr 2005

The deep belly of the temporalis muscle: an anatomical, histological and MRI study

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In order to achieve a better functional and clinical knowledge of a masticatory muscle called the sphenomandibularis that is suspected to be responsible for headaches by compressing the maxillary nerve, bilateral dissections of the infratemporal fossa were performed on ten human cadavers and completed by histological and radiological studies of the same areas. Both macroscopic and microscopic observations obviously showed that the so-called sphenomandibularis muscle corresponds to the deep portion of the temporalis muscle, since there is no epimysial septum between these two structures, which previously have been described as being completely independent from each other. In spite of the close topographic relationship between the deep belly of the temporalis and the lateral pterygoid muscle, as well as their similar innervation pattern, the sphenomandibularis in fact has to be considered functionally as an original but non-isolated positional fascicle of the temporalis muscle itself. Our observations, correlated with MR images, suggest indeed that the deep belly of the temporalis muscle is of functional importance in the masticatory movements, but is not involved by its neurovascular vicinity in the genesis of specific headaches. Its surgical release, however, should be discussed in the case of a temporal myoplasty.