Parasympathetic ganglia in the head and neck

Last revised by Amir Rezaee on 12 Jun 2023

The parasympathetic ganglia are a group of 4 bilateral autonomic ganglia in the head and neck. Each has three roots entering the ganglion and a variable number of exiting branches, but only parasympathetic fibers synapse within the ganglion. Sensory and sympathetic fibers only traversing through the ganglion to reach end organ. Parasympathetic fibers originate from the autonomic components of the cranial nerves III, VII and IX. They are involved in parasympathetic control of the eye, major and lesser salivary glands and the lacrimal glands, and consist of the:

Each ganglia has a typical structure with 3 roots, each carrying different fibers which may or may not synapse in the ganglion itself. The 3 roots are:

  • parasympathetic

  • sympathetic (usually vasomotor)

  • sensory 

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