Journal of Hard Tissue Biology, Vol.20(2) : 259~264, 2011
The lateral pterygoid muscle has unique anatomical, physiological and functional properties. Since it is attached to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc, its pathologies are closely related to TMJ disorders, which affect many people worldwide. Muscle structures and units are characterized by their morphological appearance, nerve distribution and function. In the present study, we examined the intramuscular innervation pattern of the lateral pterygoid muscle using modified sihler’s method. Two types of innervation pattern were evident. In type I, representing the majority of the samples, a total of three branches arising from the main trunk of the mandibular nerve and the buccal nerve innervated the inferior head of the muscle, while branches from the buccal nerve innervated the superior head. In type II, divisions of the lateral pterygoid nerve branched from the buccal nerve located between the heads of the lateral pterygoid muscle and innervated each head separately. Interestingly, muscle bundles with a stronger tendineous structure showed much more innervation than other parts of the muscle. Future studies including quantitative analysis of the nerve distribution to the muscle bundles are warranted.