The nose is one olfactory and respiratory organ. It is composed of sleep skeleton, which residences the sleep cavity. The nasal cavity has four functions:

Warms and humidifies the motivated air.Removes and also traps pathogens and particulate issue from the motivated air.Responsible for sense of smell.

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Drains and clears the paranasal sinuses and lacrimal ducts.

In this article, us shall look at the anatomy of the sleep cavity – that divisions, structure and also neurovascular supply.


The nasal cavity is the most superior part of the respiratory tract. The extends native the vestibule that the sleep to the nasopharynx, and has three divisions:

Vestibule – the area bordering the anterior exterior opening come the sleep cavity.Respiratory region – lined by a ciliated psudeostratified epithelium, interspersed through mucus-secreting goblet cells.Olfactory region – located at the apex the the nasal cavity. The is lined by olfactory cells v olfactory receptors.

Fig 1 – Sagittal ar of the nasal cavity. Conchae are current on the lateral walls

Nasal Conchae

Projecting the end of the lateral wall surfaces of the sleep cavity space curved shelves the bone. Castle are dubbed conchae (or turbinates). The room three conchae – inferior, middle and superior.

They project into the sleep cavity, creating four pathways for the air to flow. This pathways are dubbed meatuses:

Inferior meatus – between the inferior concha and also floor of the sleep cavity.Middle meatus between the inferior and middle concha.Superior meatus between the middle and superior concha.Spheno-ethmoidal recess – superiorly and also posteriorly to the premium concha.

The role of the conchae is to rise the surface area of the nasal cavity – this increases the quantity of motivated air that have the right to come into call with the cavity walls. They likewise disrupt the fast, laminar circulation of the air, making it slow and turbulent. The wait spends much longer in the nasal cavity, so the it can be humidified.

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Fig 2 – Coronal ar of the anterior nasal cavity. The spheno-ethmoidal recess is situated posteriorly,and no visible on this diagram.

Openings right into the nasal Cavity

One the the functions of the sleep is come drain a variety of structures. Thus, there are numerous openings right into the nasal cavity, whereby drainage occurs.

The paranasal sinuses drainpipe into the nasal cavity. The frontal, maxillary and anterior ethmoidal sinuses open into the middle meatus. The place of this opening is significant by the semilunar hiatus, a crescent-shaped groove top top the lateral walls of the sleep cavity.

The middle ethmoidal sinuses empty out onto a structure referred to as the ethmoidal bulla. This is a bulge in the lateral wall surface formed by the center ethmoidal sinus itself. The posterior ethmoidal sinuses open out in ~ the level of the superior meatus.

The only structure not to empty the end onto the lateral wall surfaces of the sleep cavity is the sphenoid sinus. It drains onto the posterior roof.

In enhancement to the paranasal sinuses, other structures open right into the sleep cavity:

Nasolacrimal duct – action to drain tears indigenous the eye. That opens into the inferior meatus.Auditory (Eustachian) tube – opens right into the nasopharynx in ~ the level the the worse meatus. It enables the middle ear to equalise through the atmospheric air pressure.
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Fig 3 – The conchae have been removed, showing the various openings on the lateral wall surface of the sleep cavity.

Clinical Relevance: spread of Infection

As the auditory tube connects the middle ear and upper respiratory tract, the is a route by which infection can spread from the top respiratory street to the ear. Infection of the listening tube causes swelling of the mucous linings, and the pipe becomes blocked. This results in diminished hearing.

Gateways come the nasal Cavity

As well together openings because that the drainage that structures, nerves, vasculature and lymphatics must be may be to access the sleep cavity.

The cribriform plate is part of the ethmoid bone. It forms a part of the roof the the sleep cavity. It has very tiny perforations, permitting fibres of the olfactory nerve come enter and also exit,

At the level the the premium meatus, the sphenopalatine foramen is located. This hole permits communication in between the nasal cavity and the pterygopalatine fossa. The sphenopalatine artery, nasopalatine and superior nasal nerves pass with here.

The incisive canal is a pathway between the nasal cavity and also the incisive fossa that the dental cavity. That transmits the nasopalatine nerve and greater palatine artery.


The nose has actually a an extremely rich vascular it is provided – this allows it to effectively readjust humidity and temperature of influenced air. The nose receives blood from both the internal and also external carotid arteries:

Internal carotid branches:

Anterior ethmoidal arteryPosterior ethmoidal artery

The ethmoidal arteries are branch the the ophthalmic artery. They descend into the sleep cavity with the cribriform plate

External carotid branches:

Sphenopalatine arteryGreater palatine arterySuperior labial arteryLateral nasal arteries

In enhancement to the rich blood supply, these arteries form anastomoses through each other. This is particularly prevalent in the anterior portion of the sleep .

The veins the the nose tend to monitor the arteries. They drainpipe into the pterygoid plexus, face vein or cavernous sinus.

In part individuals, a few nasal veins join with the sagittal sinus (a dural venous sinus). This represents a potential pathway by which infection deserve to spread indigenous the nose right into the cranial cavity.

Adapted from work-related by FirstAdmiral , via Wikimedia Commons

Fig 4 – Little’s area and the arterial supply to the nose.


The innervation the the nose deserve to be functionally divided into special and also general innervation.

Special sensory innervation describes the ability of the nose to smell. This is brought out by the olfactory nerves. The olfactory bulb, component of the brain, lies ~ above the remarkable surface that the cribriform plate, above the nasal cavity. Branches that the olfactory nerve run through the cribriform key to administer special sensory innervation to the nose.

General sensory innervation to the septum and also lateral wall surfaces is delivered by the nasopalatine nerve (branch the maxillary nerve) and also the nasociliary nerve (branch of the ophthalmic nerve). Innervation come the external skin of the sleep is offered by the trigeminal nerve.

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Fig 5 – Lateral see of the sleep septum. Keep in mind the close relationship of the olfactory bulb and cribriform plate

Clinical Relevance: Cribriform bowl Fracture

A fracture that the cribriform key can occur as a result of nose trauma. The is either fractured directly by the trauma, or by pieces of the ethmoid bone.

A broken cribriform plate can penetrate the meningeal linings of the brain, resulting in leakage the cerebro-spinal fluid. Exposing the mind to the outside environment like this rises the threats of meningitis, encephalitis and also cerebral abscesses.

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The olfactory bulb lies on the cribriform plate and also can be damaged irreversibly through the fracture. In this case, the patient may present with anosmia (loss the smell).