Sympathetic trunk

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Sympathetic trunk
Abdominal portion of the sympathetic trunk, with the celiac plexus and hypogastric plexus. (Sympathetic trunk labeled at center left.)
Scheme showing pathways (white/grey rami are spatially reversed, possibly for clarity?) of a typical spinal nerve.
1. Somatic efferent.
2. Somatic afferent.
3,4,5. Sympathetic efferent.
6,7. Parasympathetic afferent.
Latin truncus sympathicus
TA A14.3.01.002
FMA 6258
Anatomical terminology

The sympathetic trunks (sympathetic chain, gangliated cord) are a paired bundle of nerve fibers that run from the base of the skull to the coccyx.


The sympathetic trunk lies just lateral to the vertebral bodies for the entire length of the vertebral column. It interacts with the anterior rami of spinal nerves by way of rami communicantes. The sympathetic trunk permits preganglionic fibers of the sympathetic nervous system to ascend to spinal levels superior to T1 and descend to spinal levels inferior to L2/3.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

The superior end of it is continued upward through the carotid canal into the skull, and forms a plexus on the internal carotid artery; the inferior part travels in front of the coccyx, where it converges with the other trunk at a structure known as the ganglion impar.

Along the length of the sympathetic trunk are sympathetic ganglia known as paravertebral ganglia.


The sympathetic trunk is a fundamental part of the sympathetic nervous system, part of the autonomic nervous system. It allows nerve fibres to travel to spinal nerves that are superior and inferior to the one in which they originated. Also, a number of nerves, such as most of the splanchnic nerves, arise directly from the trunks.

Autonomic nervous supply to organs in the human body edit
Organ Nerves[8] Spinal column origin[8]
stomach T6, T7, T8, T9, sometimes T10
duodenum T5, T6, T7, T8, T9, sometimes T10
pancreatic head T8, T9
jejunum and ileum T5, T6, T7, T8, T9
spleen T6, T7, T8
vermiform appendix T10
gallbladder and liver T6, T7, T8, T9
kidneys and ureters T11, T12

Additional images[edit]


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

  1. ^ Mader S. S. (2000): Human biology. McGraw-Hill, New York, ISBN 0-07-290584-0; ISBN 0-07-117940-2.
  2. ^ Pritchard T. E., Alloway D. (1999): Medical neuroscience. Hayes Barton Press, ISBN 978-1-59377-200-0:
  3. ^ Butler A. B., Hodos W. (2005): Comparative vertebrate neuroanatomy: evolution and adaptation. Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 978-0-471-21005-4.
  4. ^ Butler, Ann B.; Hodos, William (2005-09-02). Comparative Vertebrate Neuroanatomy: Evolution and Adaptation. Wiley. ISBN 9780471733836. 
  5. ^ Hall J. E., Guyton A. C. (2006): Textbook of medical physiology, 11th edition. Elsevier Saunders, St. Louis, Mo, ISBN 0-7216-0240-1.
  6. ^ Warrell D. A., Cox T. M., Firth J. D. (2010): The Oxford Textbook of Medicine (5th ed.). Oxford University Press
  7. ^ Greenstein B., Greenstein A. (2002): Color atlas of neuroscience – Neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. Thieme, Stuttgart – New York, ISBN 9783131081711.
  8. ^ a b Unless specified otherwise in the boxes, the source is: Moore, Keith L.; Agur, A. M. R. (2002). Essential Clinical Anatomy (2nd ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-7817-5940-3. 

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