Lesser petrosal nerve

The lesser petrosal nerve (also known as the small superficial petrosal nerve) is the general visceral efferent (GVE) component of the glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX), carrying parasympathetic preganglionic fibers from the tympanic plexus to the parotid gland. It synapses in the otic ganglion, from where the postganglionic fibers emerge.

Lesser petrosal nerve
Mandibular division of trigeminal nerve, seen from the middle line. The small figure is an enlarged view of the otic ganglion. (Small petrosal labeled at center top and bottom right.)
Plan of the facial and intermediate nerves and their communication with other nerves.
Fromtympanic plexus
Tootic ganglion
Innervatesparotid gland
Latinnervus petrosus minor
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy


After arising in the tympanic plexus, the lesser petrosal nerve passes forward and then through the hiatus for lesser petrosal nerve on the anterior surface of the petrous part of the temporal bone into the middle cranial fossa. It travels across the floor of the middle cranial fossa,[1] then exits the skull via canaliculus innominatus[2] to reach the infratemporal fossa. The fibres synapse in the otic ganglion, and post-ganglionic fibres then travel briefly with the auriculotemporal nerve (a branch of V3) before entering the body of the parotid gland.

The lesser petrosal nerve will distribute its parasympathetic post-ganglionic (GVE) fibers to the parotid gland via the intraparotid plexus (or parotid plexus), the branches from the facial nerve in the parotid gland.

The nucleus of the lesser petrosal nerve is the inferior salivatory nucleus.

See also


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

  1. Kakizawa Y. et al., "The course of the lesser petrosal nerve on the middle cranial fossa." Neurosurgery. 2007 Sep; 61(3 Suppl): 15–23. PMID 17876229
  2. Kakizawa, Yukinari; Abe, Hiroshi; Fukushima, Yutaka; Hongo, Kazuhiro; El-Khouly, Hatem; Rhoton, Albert L. (September 2007). "The course of the lesser petrosal nerve on the middle cranial fossa". Neurosurgery. 61 (3 Suppl): 15–23, discussion 23. doi:10.1227/01.neu.0000289707.49684.a3. ISSN 1524-4040. PMID 17876229.
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