Medical EducationCLINICAL PRACTICE

A superficial dissection approach to the sphenopalatine (pterygopalatine) ganglion to emphasize osteopathic clinical relevance

Olivia C. Matz, MSA; Laura J. Rudberg-Post, BA; Hannah C. Gustafson, MSA, MSBS; and Donald G. Matz, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: March 30, 2023

Accepted: December 4, 2023

Published: January 24, 2024

  • Olivia C. Matz, MSA, 

    Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Des Moines, IA, USA

  • Laura J. Rudberg-Post, BA, 

    Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Des Moines, IA, USA

  • Hannah C. Gustafson, MSA, MSBS, 

    Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Des Moines, IA, USA

  • Donald G. Matz, PhD, 

    Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Des Moines, IA, USA

Abstract

The sphenopalatine (pterygopalatine) ganglion (SPG) is the most superficial ganglia to manipulate from the oral cavity. It has parasympathetic and sensory fibers directly affecting the paranasal sinuses as well as the palatine, nasal, pharyngeal, and lacrimal glands. The SPG can be manipulated intraorally by students and physicians utilizing osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) to relieve congestion associated with sinusitis, allergies, headaches, and upper respiratory infections. Within osteopathic medical education programs, students have anecdotally had difficulty identifying this ganglion due to its deep anatomic location and lack of direct visualization. In this article, we discuss that cadaveric dissection with a superficial to deep approach to the SPG has the ability to allow medical students and physicians to better understand the three-dimensional location and osteopathic clinical relevance of this ganglion.

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