Skip to main content

Unfortunately we don't fully support your browser. If you have the option to, please upgrade to a newer version or use Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Safari 14 or newer. If you are unable to, and need support, please send us your feedback.

Publish with us
Lateral Pterygoid Muscle (Left)
Muscular System

Lateral Pterygoid Muscle (Left)

Musculus pterygoideus lateralis

Read more

Quick Facts

Origin: Superior head: infratemporal surface and infratemporal crest of greater wing of sphenoid bone; Inferior head: lateral surface of lateral pterygoid plate of sphenoid bone.

Insertion: Neck of mandible.

Action: Laterally moves and protracts mandible.

Innervation: Nerve to lateral pterygoid muscle (CN V3).

Arterial Supply: Pterygoid branches of maxillary artery and ascending palatine artery.

Complete Anatomy
The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform
Try it for Free


The lateral pterygoid muscle arises as two heads. The superior head originates from the infratemporal surface and crest of the greater wing of the sphenoid bone. The inferior head arises from the lateral aspect of the lateral pterygoid plate of the sphenoid bone.


The muscular fibers of the lateral pterygoid muscle converge and course in a posterolateral direction to insert into the pterygoid fovea on the neck of the mandibular. Some fibers from the upper head may also attach to the articular disc of the temporomandibular joint (Standring, 2016).

Key Features & Anatomical Relations

The fibers of the lateral pterygoid are orientated horizontally.


Overall, the lateral pterygoid muscle is involved in multiple actions:

- during unilateral contraction, it laterally moves the mandible to the opposite side at the temporomandibular joint;

- during bilateral contraction, it protracts the mandible at the temporomandibular joint (Standring, 2016).

List of Clinical Correlates

- Trismus


Standring, S. (2016) Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice. Gray's Anatomy Series 41st edn.: Elsevier Limited.

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Lateral Pterygoid Muscle

ScienceDirect image

It passes laterally between the lateral pterygoid muscle and infratemporal surface of the skull, anterior to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and posterior to the tendon of the temporalis (Piagkou et al., 2011).

Explore on ScienceDirectopens in new tab/window

Complete Anatomy

The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform

Complete Anatomy