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J Dent Res. 1993 Jan;72(1):62-6.

Relationships between the temporomandibular joint and the middle ear in human fetuses.

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Departamento de Ciencias Morfológicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain.


A study was conducted, on 30 human fetuses, of the structures passing through the tympanosquamosal fissure. The tympanosquamosal fissure lies between the middle ear and the temporomandibular region. Meckel's cartilage passes through the tympanosquamosal fissure and continues on into the middle ear with the cartilaginous anlage of the malleus. A tract of fibrous tissue arises from the mesenchyme, located cranial and lateral to Meckel's cartilage, that enters from the posterior area of the temporomandibular joint disc to the middle ear through the tympanosquamosal fissure, and attaches onto the area of continuity of Meckel's cartilage with the malleus. Transformation of Meckel's cartilage into the sphenomandibular ligament and anterior ligament of the malleus determines their continuity through the tympanosquamosal fissure. The posterior fibers of the temporomandibular joint disc giving rise to the discomalleolar ligament insert into the anterior ligament of the malleus.

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