Auricular branch of vagus nerve

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Auricular branch of vagus nerve
Plan of upper portions of glossopharyngeal, vagus, and accessory nerves (auricular labeled at top center)
From vagus nerve
Latin Ramus auricularis nervi vagi
TA A14.2.01.156
FMA 6232
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The auricular branch of the vagus nerve is often termed the Alderman's nerve or Arnold's nerve. The latter name is an eponym for Friedrich Arnold.[1] It supplies sensory innervation to the skin of the ear canal.


It arises from the jugular ganglion, and is joined soon after its origin by a filament from the petrous ganglion of the glossopharyngeal; it passes behind the internal jugular vein, and enters the mastoid canaliculus on the lateral wall of the jugular fossa.

Traversing the substance of the temporal bone, it crosses the facial canal about 4 mm (0.16 in) above the stylomastoid foramen, and here it gives off an ascending branch which joins the facial nerve.

The nerve reaches the surface by passing through the tympanomastoid fissure between the mastoid process and the tympanic part of the temporal bone, and divides into two branches:

Clinical significance[edit]

This nerve may be involved by the glomus jugulare tumour.

Laryngeal cancer can present with pain behind the ear and in the ear - this is a referred pain through the vagus nerve to the nerve of Arnold.

In a small portion of individuals, the auricular nerve is the afferent limb of the Ear-Cough or Arnold Reflex.[2] Physical stimulation of the external acoustic meatus innervated by the auricular nerve elicits a cough, much like the other cough reflexes associated with the vagus nerve. Rarely, on introduction of speculum in the external ear, patients have experienced syncope due to the stimulation of the auricular branch of the vagus nerve.


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. ^ synd/258 at Who Named It?
  2. ^ Brendan J. Canning, PhD (January 2006). "Anatomy and Neurophysiology of the Cough Reflex". CHEST. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 

External links[edit]