Greater superficial petrosal nerve

Last revised by Dr Kieran Kusel on 08 Oct 2020

The greater (superficial) petrosal nerve originates at the geniculate ganglion, where the nervus intermedius and facial nerve join. It contains mainly preganglionic parasympathetic fibers and some sensory taste afferent fibers from the soft palate.

After leaving the geniculate ganglion it passes through a small hiatus in the petrous bone to reach middle cranial fossa, lying between the two layers of the dura mater. It passes towards foramen lacerum where it is joined by the deep petrosal nerve (sympathetic fibers from the internal carotid artery) to form the nerve of the pterygoid canal (a.k.a. Vidian nerve).

Its parasympathetic fibers relay in the pterygopalatine ganglion.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1
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  • Figure 2: geniculate ganglion
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  • Figure 3: maxillary division of the trigeminal nerve (Gray's illustration)
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