A comprehensive review with potential significance during skull base and neck operations, Part II: Glossopharyngeal, vagus, accessory, and hypoglossal nerves and cervical spinal nerves 1–4



Knowledge of the possible neural interconnections found between the lower cranial and upper cervical nerves may prove useful to surgeons who operate on the skull base and upper neck regions in order to avoid inadvertent traction or transection. We review the literature regarding the anatomy, function, and clinical implications of the complex neural networks formed by interconnections between the lower cranial and upper cervical nerves. A review of germane anatomic and clinical literature was performed. The review is organized into two parts. Part I discusses the anastomoses between the trigeminal, facial, and vestibulocochlear nerves or their branches and other nerve trunks or branches in the vicinity. Part II deals with the anastomoses between the glossopharyngeal, vagus, accessory and hypoglossal nerves and their branches or between these nerves and the first four cervical spinal nerves; the contribution of the autonomic nervous system to these neural plexuses is also briefly reviewed. Part II is presented in this article. Extensive and variable neural anastomoses exist between the lower cranial nerves and between the upper cervical nerves in such a way that these nerves with their extra-axial communications can be collectively considered a plexus. Clin. Anat. 27:131–144, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.