Lesser palatine nerves

Last revised by Craig Hacking on 13 Oct 2022

The lesser palatine nerves (or posterior palatine nerves) are a group of 2 to 3 nerves (usually 2 nerves) that arise of the maxillary division of the trigeminal nerve and contributes to the pterygopalatine ganglion.

Gross anatomy

The lesser palatine nerves divide off the maxillary division just after emerging from the foramen rotundum to enter the pterygopalatine fossa. At the pterygopalatine ganglion receives parasympathetic fibers that supply palatine mucosal glands as well as special sensory fibers (taste) which arrive at the ganglia via the greater petrosal nerve.

It leaves the fossa inferiorly through the lesser palatine canal, posterior to the greater palatine canal (although some authors describe the lesser palatine canal arising from the greater palatine canal). The nerve then emerges on the hard palate through the lesser palatine foramen behind the pyramidal process of the palatine bone. It supplies the mucosa of the uvulasoft palate and palatine tonsil.

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