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Tensor Veli Palatini
Muscular System

Tensor Veli Palatini

Tensor veli palatini

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Quick Facts

Origin: Scaphoid fossa and spine sphenoid bone and wall of auditory tube.

Insertion: Palatine aponeurosis.

Action: Opens auditory tube; tenses soft palate.

Innervation: Nerve to tensor veli palatini (CN V3).

Arterial Supply: Ascending and greater palatine arteries.

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The tensor veli palatini muscle originates from the scaphoid fossa of the pterygoid process and the medial area of the spine of the sphenoid bone. It also attaches to the anterolateral region of the membranous portion of the auditory (pharyngotympanic or Eustachian) tube.


The distal fibers of the tensor veli palatini muscle converge on a thin tendon which turns medially around the pterygoid hamulus. It runs through the buccinator muscle attachment to reach the palatine aponeurosis.

Key Features & Anatomical Relations

Medial to the tensor veli palatini is the medial pterygoid plate, auditory tube, and levator veli palatini muscle (Standring, 2016).

Laterally, the tensor veli palatini muscle is bounded by the medial pterygoid muscle, the middle meningeal artery, and the mandibular nerve (Standring, 2016).

The fibers of the tensor veli palatini muscle, which originate from the pterygoid hamulus and attach to the lateral layer of cartilage of the auditory tube, are referred to as the dilator tubae.


The tensor veli palatini muscle opens the auditory tube during swallowing and yawning. This action equalizes air pressure between the nasopharynx and the middle ear. In addition, bilateral activation of the entire muscle causes the soft palate to tighten while unilateral activation moves the soft palate laterally to one side (Standring, 2016).


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

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