Morphological and Functional Analysis of the Lateral Pterygoid Muscle: A Review of the Literature

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Constanza Farfán; Jonathan Roig; Bryan Quidel & Ramón Fuentes


The Lateral Pterygoid Muscle (LPM) is a complex and variable structure. Being able to determine its exact anatomy, neighboring relationships, origin and insertions, helps clinicians to better understand its function in the stomatognathic system. This review seeks to analyze the literature, in order to clarify the antagonistic function of the lateral pterygoid muscle heads, from a nervous point of view. Furthermore, the description of its origin, aspects of insertions and possible anatomical variations, its functions as reported in traditional literature, are analyzed and compared with original articles. Different electronic databases and books were analyzed, with designated inclusion and exclusion criteria. Two researchers independently reviewed the articles, whennecessary a third researcher resolved any differences. This review includes a total of 11 articles and 4 books related to our study topic. Results were reported using data extraction tables, which included functions, innervation, origin and insertion, and anatomical variations of the LPM. Our results show that the common elements of origin of LPM were clearly identified, but their insertion showed variations between the different studies, both in the percentage of fibers joined and the anatomical elements inserted. Considering the antagonistic functions of the two heads, authors have described it as two different muscles. However from a nervous point of view, this theory is not supported. Finally, understanding the functions of the LPM during its action is complex, since most studies available use cadavers or electromyography. Therefore, we believe that the development of less invasive and painful methodologies, would help to understand the influence of anatomical variations on the function of this muscle.

KEY WORDS: Lateral Pterygoid Muscle; Functional anatomy; Anatomical variations; Temporomandibular joint.

How to cite this article

FARFÁN, C.; ROIG, J.; QUIDEL, B. & FUENTES, R. Morphological and functional analysis of the lateral pterygoid muscle: A review of the literature. Int. J. Morphol., 38(6):1713- 1721, 2020.