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Paul Kim

Vagus nerve: intracranial and upper cervical parts (English)

Vagus nerve: intracranial and upper cervical parts (English)

The vagus nerve carries special visceral efferent/branchiomotor fibers from the nucleus ambiguus and general visceral efferent/parasympathetic fibers from the posterior(dorsal) nucleus of vagus nerve. General somatic afferent/sensory fibers are carried to the spinal nucleus of trigeminal nerve, while both general and special visceral afferent fibers arrive at the nucleus of solitary tract. The vagus nerve emerges from the lateral surface of the medulla oblongata (retroolivary groove) as a group of rootlets that merge before exiting the skull via the jugular foramen between the glossopharyngeal (CN IX) and accessory (CN XI) nerves. In this region, the vagus nerve bears the superior (jugular) ganglion (of vagus nerve) that contains the cell bodies of GSA fibers and has connections to the glossopharyngeal nerve, cervical sympathetic trunk and cranial root of accessory nerve (which is nowadays considered as a functional component of the vagus nerve). The superior ganglion gives off a meningeal branch (not shown) as well as an auricular branch, which supplies parts of the auricle and tympanic membrane. Below the superior ganglion is the inferior (nodose) ganglion which contains cell bodies of visceral and special sensory fibers of the vagus nerve and has connections with the hypoglossal nerve (CN XII). After exiting the jugular foramen, the vagus nerve gives off a pharyngeal branch which supplies motor function to pharyngeal constrictor and palatine muscles, as well as receiving some GVA/sensory fibers from the pharyngeal plexus also. It also communicates with the carotid sinus nerve (of glossopharyngeal nerve). The final upper cervical branch seen here is the superior laryngeal nerve.
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