Spinal nucleus of the trigeminal nerve

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 18 Sep 2020

The spinal nucleus of the trigeminal nerve is one of three major nuclei that make up the trigeminal sensory nerve nuclear complex along with the main sensory nucleus and the mesencephalic nucleus 1-2.

Gross anatomy

The spinal nucleus of the trigeminal nerve is a paired structure and is an inferior continuation of the main sensory nucleus of the trigeminal nerve within the caudal lower pons. It extends inferiorly through the medulla to the level of the upper cervical cord (approximately C2 to C3 levels) where it becomes continuous with the dorsal horn of the spinal cord.  The spinal nucleus lies ventral to the vestibular and cochlear nuclei and medial to the inferior cerebellar peduncles.

Innervation

The spinal nucleus receives afferent impulses from the unilateral face which convey information about pain, temperature and crude touch. The nucleus also receives sensory afferent impulses from other cranial nerves:

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: CN V (diagram)
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  • Figure 1: CN VII (diagram)
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  • Figure 2: CN IX (diagram)
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  • Figure 3: CN X (diagram)
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  • Figure 4: brainstem sensory nuclei - Gray's anatomy illustration
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  • Figure 5: brainstem nuclei: dorsal section - Gray's anatomy illustration
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