The canalis pterygoideus (commonly known as the pterygoid canal) is an opening in the base of the medial pterygoid process of the sphenoid bone through which the artery, vein and nerve of the pterygoid canal pass. Damage to the nerve of the canal results in the loss of lacrimation (secretion of tears). Obliteration of this nerve can treat Sluder syndrome (pterygopalatine ganglion neuralgia) and epiphora.
The Italian surgeon and anatomist Guido Guidi discovered the canalis pterygoideus in the 1560s. On its discovery he states, “In the neighbourhood of the previously mentioned canals through which pass the carotid arteries are two other holes of which are in the sphenoid bone and are not easy to see unless this bone is removed from the other bones. They make their way forwards to the sinuses of the nostrils to provide a passage for the arteries going from the brain to the nostrils.” Here is an illustration of the sphenoid bone:
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Here is a photograph of the posterior of the sphenoid bone with the canalis pteryoideus (pterygoid canal) clearly labelled:
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Here is a portrait of Guido Guidi:
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