Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 115–123 | Cite as

Postnatal development of the facial canal an investigation based on cadaver dissections and computed tomography

  • A H Weiglein
Radiologic Anatomy


The anatomy of the facial nerve canal in the adult and the prenatal development of this canal are well described in the literature. It is divided into three segments (the labyrinthine segment, the tympanic segment and the mastoid segment). However, little is known of the facial canal anatomy in the newborn and almost nothing in the child. Postnatal changes in the development of the facial canal are directly connected with the postnatal development of the temporal bone. Particularly the development of the mastoid process and the bony external ear canal contribute to the development of the third (mastoidal) portion of the facial canal. Therefore, most of the postnatal changes in the facial canal are observed in this segment. However, the second (tympanic) portion also shows some postnatal changes in its direction caused by the changes of the squamous bone. The most significant changes take place during the first four years after birth. Provided with the anatomical description of the entire facial canal in the child, it is also easy to identify the canal on computed tomography scans. In summary, the first and the second part of the facial canal in the child are almost similar to the adult in length and in width; the only change from the newborn to the adult is in the direction of the second part which is more horizontal in the adult than during early childhood. The most significant changes are the changes in the length of the mastoidal part, the change in the position of the stylomastoid foramen and the change of the divergence of the chorda tympani.

Key words

Facial nerve Facial canal Temporal bone Development 

Développement post-natal du canal facial. Etude par dissection et tomodensitométrie


L'anatomie de l'adulte et le développement prénatal du canal facial sont bien décrits dans la littérature. Il est divisé en trois segments (labyrinthique, tympanique et mastoïdien). Cependant les connaissances concernant l'anatomie du canal facial sont pauvres chez le nouveau-né et pratiquement inexistantes chez l'enfant. Les modifications liées au développement post-natal du canal facial sont directement en rapport avec le développement post-natal de l'os temporal. En particulier le développement du processus mastoïde et du méat acoustique externe osseux contribue au développement de la troisième portion (mastoïdienne) du canal facial. De ce fait, la plupart des modifications post-natales du canal facial sont observées dans ce segment. Néanmoins, le second segment (tympanique) montre également des modifications post-natales dans sa direction, liées aux modifications de la partie squameuse de l'os temporal. Les modifications les plus significatives ont lieu au cours des quatre premières années de la vie. Sur la base de la description anatomique concernant l'ensemble du canal facial chez l'enfant, il devient facile d'identifier le canal sur les coupes tomodensitométriques axiales. En résumé, les première et seconde portions du canal facial chez l'enfant sont pratiquement semblables à celles de l'adulte pour la longueur et l'épaisseur, la seule modification entre la naissance et l'âge adulte est la direction de la seconde portion qui est plus horizontale chez l'adulte qu'au cours des premières années de la vie. Les modifications les plus significatives concernent la longueur de la partie mastoïdienne, les variations de la position du foramen stylo-mastoïdien et les modifications de la divergence entre de la corde du tympan et le n. facial.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • A H Weiglein
    • 1
  1. 1.Anatomisches InstitutKarl-Franzens-Universität GrazGrazAustria

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