Lesser petrosal nerve

Last revised by Dr Kieran Kusel on 08 Oct 2020

The lesser petrosal nerve carries preganglionic parasympathetic fibers to the parotid gland. It is considered a branch of the glossopharyngeal nerve although it receives contributions from two further sources 3:

  1. tympanic plexus: glossopharyngeal nerve via Jacobson's nerve (main contribution)
  2. nervus intermedius: facial nerve
  3. auricular branch (Arnold’s nerve) of the vagus nerve

The nerve passes through its own canal to the floor of the middle cranial fossa, where it is located between the two layers of the dura mater between the petrous branch of the middle meningeal artery (medial) and the superior tympanic artery (lateral) 3.  It passes forwards roughly in parallel to the greater petrosal nerve to exit the skull via foramen ovale to eventually join the otic ganglion.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: interconnection diagram
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  • Figure 2: right geniculate ganglion seen from above
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