Zygomatic nerve

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 20 Sep 2020

The zygomatic nerve is a main branch of the maxillary division of the trigeminal nerve. It should not be confused with the zygomatic branch of the facial nerve.

Gross anatomy

The zygomatic nerve divides off the maxillary division just after emerging from the foramen rotundum to enter the pterygopalatine fossa. It receives some parasympathetic fibers from the pterygopalatine ganglion. Coursing superiorly it enters the orbit laterally through the inferior orbital fissure. It then runs anteriorly in the inferolateral aspect of the extraconal space before branching into two sensory branches, each which exits through similarly-named foramina of the zygomatic bone: 

In the lateral orbit it contributes secretomotor parasympathetic fibers (which derive from the pterygopalatine ganglion via the zygomaticotemporal nerve or a small separate communicating branch) to the lacrimal nerve (a branch of the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve), which in turn supplies the lacrimal gland.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: orbital apex diagram
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  • Figure 2: V2 branches
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  • Figure 3: nerves of the orbit (Gray's illustration)
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  • Figure 4: maxillary and mandibular divisions of the trigeminal nerve (Gray's illustration)
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