Vol 71, No 3 (2012)
Original article
Published online: 2012-08-31

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Clinical anatomy of the auriculotemporal nerve in area of infratemporal fossa

I. Komarnitki, A. Andrzejczak-Sobocińska, J. Tomczyk, K. Deszczyńska, B. Ciszek
Folia Morphol 2012;71(3):187-193.


The auriculotemporal nerve is a sensory branch extending from the posterior section of the mandibular nerve trunk. Its nerve roots form a short trunk, which gives off a number of branches, innervating: the temporomandibular joint, the temporal region, structures of the external ear: auricle, and external acoustic meatus and parotid gland. It also conducts excretory fibres to the buccal and labial glands. Anatomical relationships between the auriculotemporal nerve and the muscles of mastication, temporomandibular joint, and surrounding vessels in the area of infratemporal fossa create favourable conditions for entrapment syndromes. Entrapment of the auriculotemporal nerve plays a role in the pathogenesis of temporomandibular joint pain syndromes, headaches, as well as pain symptoms or paresthesias within the external acoustic meatus and auricle. The current study was performed on 16 specimens containing the infratemporal fossa. Some variations in the nerve roots of the auriculotemporal nerve was found and described as one-, two-, three-, four-, and five- root variants. The topography of the auriculotemporal nerve and its close relationship to structures of the temporomandibular joint were described. Individually, variable topography of the nerve course may play a role in symptomatology of headaches and localization of pain in the face regions and masticatory system.

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