Nerve of pterygoid canal

The nerve of the pterygoid canal (Vidian nerve) is formed by the junction of the greater petrosal nerve and the deep petrosal nerve within the pterygoid canal containing the cartilaginous substance, which fills the foramen lacerum.

Nerve of pterygoid canal
Plan of the facial and intermediate nerves and their communication with other nerves. (Vidian nerve labeled at upper right.)
Fromgreater petrosal nerve, deep petrosal nerve
Topterygopalatine ganglion
Latinn. canalis pterygoidei
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy


It passes forward through the pterygoid canal with its corresponding artery (artery of the pterygoid canal) and is joined by a small ascending sphenoidal branch from the otic ganglion. It then enters the pterygopalatine fossa and joins the posterior angle of the pterygopalatine ganglion.
The vidian nerve does not fill the foramen lacerum. The deep and great petrosal nerves join together to form the vidian nerve, which passes over the foramen lacerum. It is commonly stated that nothing passes through the foramen lacerum, but a more detailed look shows that emissary veins enter here.
The deep petrosal nerve does not have parasympathetic fibers. It comes from the Superior Sympathetic Cervical Ganglion off of the Sympathetic trunk. At this point, all sympathetic fibers are considered Sympathetic-Postganglionic.

Contents of Vidian Nerve


The preganglionic parasympathetic fibers of the greater petrosal nerve, upon synapsing in the pterygopalatine ganglion, will distribute to the nose, palate, and lacrimal gland through various nerves leaving the pterygopalatine fossa.

Additional images

See also


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 892 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  • cranialnerves at The Anatomy Lesson by Wesley Norman (Georgetown University) (VII) ("NPC")
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