Parasympathetic ganglia of Head and Neck

Important points:

  1. Preganglionic fibers travel with cranial nerves III, VII, IX and X, then meet cranial nerve V in ganglion and post-ganglionic fibers are carried by branch of cranial nerve V.
  2. Parasympathetic ganglia also have sympathetic components.
  3. Each PSNS ganglion has three roots: a motor root, a sympathetic root, and a sensory root, as well as a number of exiting branches.
parasympathetic ganglia schematic
Tekks, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

1. COPS 3977
2. C is 3rd letter hence related to cranial nerve III
3. S for Sphenopalatine and Submandibular and S for Seven and is related to Superior Salivatory nucleus
4. All postganglionic fibers are carried by trigeminal nerve (Cranial nerve V)

GanglionNucleusPre-ganglionicPost-ganglionicSympathetic rootFunction
CiliaryEdinger-WestphalCN IIICN V1 – short ciliary nerveNasociliary nerve (internal carotid plexus)Sphincter pupillae and ciliary muscles
OticInferior salivatoryCN IX (lesser petrosal nerve)CN V3 – auriculo-temporal nervePlexus around medial meningeal arteryParotid gland
Superior salivatoryCN VII (greater petrosal nerve)CN V1/V2Deep petrosal nerve (internal carotid plexus)Lacrimal, nasal, palatine, pharyngeal glands
SubmandibularSuperior salivatoryCN VII (chorda tympani)CN V3 – lingual branchPlexus around facial nerveSublingual, submandibular glands

Petrosal nerves:

  1. Greater petrosal nerve = Parasympathetic CN VII (facial nerve)
  2. Lesser petrosal nerve = Parasympathetic CN IX (glossopharyngeal nerve)
  3. Deep petrosal nerve = Sympathetic (internal carotid plexus)
  4. Nerve of pterygoid canal = Greater petrosal nerve + Deep petrosal nerve

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