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Head and Neck Anatomy: Part III – Cranial Nerves

Course Number: 598

Cranial Nerve VII - Facial Nerve

Hopefully you were disappointed in the simplicity of the abducens nerve because the facial nerve is a very complex one. It has all the possible fiber types: somatic motor, visceral motor, general sensory and special sensory. We have already seen the autonomic fibers in the discussion of the maxillary and ophthalmic nerves carrying its fibers to the lacrimal gland and the mandibular nerve in regards to the submandibular and sublingual glands plus the special sensory component of taste. Now we get to see how the fibers got to those nerves plus the other components that we have not seen.

As this is a mixed nerve we will start at the cranial exit. The facial nerve leaves the cranial cavity through the internal acoustic meatus. This leads into the petrous portion of the temporal bone. Within the bone it gives off two branches which means that leaving the temporal bone there are three nerves, the facial itself and two branches, each leaving through a separate foramen. We will cover the branches first before following the main nerve trunk.