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Clin Anat. 2011 Jan;24(1):10-8. doi: 10.1002/ca.21072. Epub 2010 Oct 12.

Peripheral facial nerve communications and their clinical implications.

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Department of Anatomical Sciences, School of Medicine, St. George's University, Grenada, West Indies.


The facial nerve (CN VII) nerve follows a torturous and complex path from its emergence at the pontomedullary junction to its various destinations. It exhibits a highly variable and complicated branching pattern and forms communications with several other cranial nerves. The facial nerve forms most of these neural intercommunications with branches of all three divisions of the trigeminal nerve (CN V), including branches of the auriculotemporal, buccal, mental, lingual, infraorbital, zygomatic, and ophthalmic nerves. Furthermore, CN VII also communicates with branches of the vestibulocochlear nerve (CN VIII), glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX), and vagus nerve (CN X) as well as with branches of the cervical plexus such as the great auricular, greater, and lesser occipital, and transverse cervical nerves. This review intends to explore the many communications between the facial nerve and other nerves along its course from the brainstem to its peripheral branches on the human face. Such connections may have importance during clinical examination and surgical procedures of the facial nerve. Knowledge of the anatomy of these neural connections may be particularly important in facial reconstructive surgery, neck dissection, and various nerve transfer procedures as well as for understanding the pathophysiology of various cranial, skull base, and neck disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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