Greater petrosal nerve

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Greater petrosal nerve
The course and connections of the facial nerve in the temporal bone.
Plan of the facial and intermediate nerves and their communication with other nerves.
Latin nervus petrosus major
facial nerve
nerve of pterygoid canal
Gray's p.903
TA A14.2.01.117
FMA FMA:53417
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The greater (superficial) petrosal nerve (also known as the large superficial petrosal nerve) is a nerve in the skull that branches from the facial nerve; it forms part of a chain of nerves that innervate the lacrimal gland. The fibres have synapses in the pterygopalatine ganglion.


The greater (superficial) petrosal nerve is a branch of the facial nerve that arises from the geniculate ganglion, a part of the facial nerve inside the facial canal. It enters the middle cranial fossa (along with the petrosal branch of the middle meningeal artery) through the Hiatus of the facial canal (aka. greater (superficial) petrosal foramen on the anterior surface of the petrous temporal bone). It proceeds towards the foramen lacerum, where it joins the deep petrosal nerve (sympathetic) to form the nerve of the pterygoid canal (aka. the vidian nerve), which passes over the foramen lacerum. The nerve of the pterygoid canal passes through the pterygoid canal (aka. vidian canal) to reach the pterygopalatine ganglion.


The greater (superficial) petrosal nerve carries parasympathetic preganglionic fibers from the facial nerve. The greater petrosal nerve continues as the nerve of the pterygoid canal and ultimately synapses with the pterygopalatine ganglion whose parasympathetic postganglionic fibers synapse with the lacrimal gland and the mucosal glands of the nose, palate, and pharynx.

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