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Glossopharyngeal nerve

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Nerve: Glossopharyngeal nerve
Plan of upper portions of glossopharyngeal, vagus, and accessory nerves.
Course and distribution of the glossopharyngeal, vagus, and accessory nerves. (Label for glossopharyngeal is at upper right.)
Latin nervus glossopharyngeus
Gray's subject #204 906
Innervates stylopharyngeus
To tympanic nerve
MeSH A08.800.800.120.290

The glossopharyngeal nerve is the ninth of twelve cranial nerves. It exits the brainstem out from the sides of the upper medulla, just rostral (closer to the nose) to the vagus nerve.


There are a number of functions of the glossopharyngeal nerve:

Brainstem connections

The glossopharyngeal nerve, being mostly sensory, does not have a cranial nerve nucleus of its own. Instead it must project into many different structures in the brainstem:


From the medulla oblongata, the glossopharyngeal nerve passes laterally across the flocculus, and leaves the skull through the central part of the jugular foramen, in a separate sheath of the dura mater, lateral to and in front of the vagus and accessory nerves.

In its passage through the jugular foramen, it grooves the lower border of the petrous part of the temporal bone; and, at its exit from the skull, passes forward between the internal jugular vein and internal carotid artery; it descends in front of the latter vessel, and beneath the styloid process and the muscles connected with it, to the lower border of the stylopharyngeus.

It then curves forward, forming an arch on the side of the neck and lying upon the stylopharyngeus and middle pharyngeal constrictor muscle.

From there it passes under cover of the hyoglossus muscle, and is finally distributed to the palatine tonsil, the mucous membrane of the fauces and base of the tongue, and the mucous glands of the mouth.

Testing the glossopharyngeal nerve

The gag reflex is absent in patients with damage to the glossopharyngeal nerve as it is responsible for the afferent limb of the reflex.

Additional images

External links

de:Nervus glossopharyngeus

lt:Liežuvinis ryklės nervas nl:Nervus glossopharyngeusno:Nervus glossopharyngeus pt:Nervo glossofaríngeo

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