Anatomical study of the retroarticular process in dry human skulls

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Holleben, P. [UNESP]
Louzada, F. F. [UNESP]
Faig-Leite, H. [UNESP]
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Introduction: The retroarticular process is a bony prominence formed by the thickening of the lateral border of the mandibular fossa, forming the posterior wall of the temporomandibular joint. Since little is known and discussed about the retroarticular process, our aim was to study its presence, shape and size, relating these findings to the shape of the skulls according to the horizontal cephalic index. Materials and Methods: We used 400 dry human skulls of the Institute of Science and Technology - UNESP Anatomy Laboratory. Each skull was classified in brachycranics, mesocranics or dolichocranics, and then positioned on a craneostat to measure the height of the retroarticular process from its lower extremity to the auriculo-orbital plane. The width was obtained by measuring the base of the process on its longer lateral axis. Results: The retroarticular process was found bilaterally in 397 skulls (99.25%). All the processes were classified into the following shapes: pyramidal (35.55%), tubercular (31.78%), mammilar (20.73%), crest-like (9.05%) and molar shape (2.89%); 254 skulls (63.50%) showed the same type of process at the right and left sides (Kappa=0.496, moderate agreement). The average height and width were 5.28 mm and 12.81 mm, respectively. Conclusion: The retroarticular process was found in almost all the skulls examined. There are no significant evidences about the relationship among the presence, shape and size of the retroarticular process and the shape of the skulls according to the horizontal cephalic index. However, our findings led us to infer that there would be a functional relationship between the process and the temporomandibular joint.
Auricular-orbital plane, Horizontal cephalic index, Mandibular fossa, Retroarticular process, Temporomandibular joint
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Journal of Morphological Sciences, v. 30, n. 2, p. 103-106, 2013.