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Nucleus (sensory of trigeminal nerve)

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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The sensory nuclei of the trigeminal nerve is taken in this text to mean the main sensory nucleus of the trigeminal nerve within the brainstem. It is sited in the dorsolateral pons. The mesencephalic tract and the motor nucleus of the trigeminal nerve lie more medially. The superior cerebellar peduncle lies posteriorly. It is continuous inferiorly with the spinal nucleus of the trigeminal nerve that extends into the medulla. Superiorly, the sensory nuclei on each side are continuous with the mesencephalic nucleus.

The sensory nuclei of the trigeminal nerve receive afferent fibres from the:

  • trigeminal nerve:
    • ophthalmic division e.g. general sensation from supraorbital area, cornea, iris, ethmoid sinuses
    • maxillary division e.g. sensation from temple, cheek, oral cavity, upper pharyn
    • mandibular division e.g. sensation from middle cranial fossa, inner cheek, anterior 2/3 of tongue, chin
  • facial nerve e.g. general sensation from external auditory meatus
  • glossopharyngeal nerve e.g. general sensation from middle ear, tonsils, oropharynx, posterior 1/3 of tongue
  • vagus nerve:
    • auricular branch; general sensation from part of the tympanic membrane, the external acoustic meatus and some skin posterior to the auricle
    • meningeal branch; general somatic sensation from the dura mater in the posterior cranial fossa
    • internal laryngeal branch; general sensation from the larynx and pharynx above the vocal cords
    • recurrent laryngeal branch; general sensation from the mucosa below the vocal cords including the superior oesophagus and trachea

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