Learning Modules - Medical Gross Anatomy
Autonomics of the Head and Neck - Page 9 of 14

The submandibular ganglion story - before the synapse

Toward the end of its course through the petrous temporal bone, the facial nerve gives off a branch, the chorda tympani nerve, immediately before exiting the skull at the stylomastoid foramen. Chorda tympani recurs back into the middle ear cavity, and then passes anteriorly across the lateral wall of the middle ear, which happens to be the tympanic membrane. It crosses the handle of the malleus, and ultimately leaves the middle ear anteriorly to exit at the base of the skull through the petrotympanic fissure. This leads chorda tympani into the infratemporal fossa, in which it passes anteroinferiorly to join the lingual nerve from behind. It then runs with the lingual nerve to the submandibular ganglion, located in the paralingual space near the deep portion of the submandibular gland.

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