Last revised by Craig Hacking on 3 Sep 2020

The olive is the ventral oval prominence in the medulla oblongata which contains the inferior olivary nucleus, implicated in motor co-ordination.

Gross anatomy

The olive is a smooth ovoid prominence just below the pons. It is located in the superior medulla, lateral to the pyramid and ventrolateral sulcus.

The hypoglossal nerve and ventrolateral sulcus separates it from the pyramid. The posterolateral sulcus of the spinal cord separates the olive from the inferior cerebellar peduncle, which forms the lateral surface of the medulla. 

The glossopharyngeal, vagus and accessory nerves have rootlets between the olive and inferior cerebellar peduncle. The facial nerve arises at the just above the olive, inferior to the pons. 

The posterior inferior cerebellar artery arises anterior to the caudal olive in the premedullary cistern, from the vertebral artery.

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: decussation of fibers in the brainstem (Gray's illustration)
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 2: pyramids and olives (Gray's illustration)
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.