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Nasociliary nerve

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Title: Nasociliary nerve  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Anterior ethmoidal nerve, Infratrochlear nerve, Ophthalmic nerve, Posterior ethmoidal nerve, Sensory root of ciliary ganglion
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Nasociliary nerve

Nasociliary nerve
Nerves of the orbit, and the ciliary ganglion. Side view. (Nasociliary is at center.)
Nerves of septum of nose. Right side. (Nasociliary is rightmost yellow line.)
Latin nervus nasociliaris
From Ophthalmic nerve
To long root of the ciliary ganglion, the long ciliary nerves, the infratrochlear nerve, and the ethmoidal nerves
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The nasociliary nerve is a branch of the ophthalmic nerve. It is intermediate in size between the two other main branches of the ophthalmic nerve, the frontal nerve and the lacrimal nerve, and is more deeply placed.


  • Structure 1
  • Function 2
    • Branches 2.1
  • Clinical significance 3
    • Testing 3.1
  • Additional images 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The nasociliary nerve enters the orbit between the two heads of the lateral rectus muscles and between the superior and inferior rami of the oculomotor nerve (CN III). It passes across the optic nerve (CN II) and runs obliquely beneath the superior rectus muscle and superior oblique muscle to the medial wall of the orbital cavity. It passes through the anterior ethmoidal opening as the anterior ethmoidal nerve and enters the cranial cavity just above the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone. It supplies branches to the mucous membrane of the nasal cavity and finally emerges between the inferior border of the nasal bone and the side nasal cartilages as the external nasal branch.



The nasociliary nerve gives off the following branches:

PLICA is a mnemonic often used to remember these branches.

Clinical significance


Since both the short and long ciliary nerves carry the afferent limb of the corneal blink reflex, one can test the integrity of the nasociliary nerve (and, ultimately, the trigeminal nerve) by examining this reflex in the patient. Normally both eyes should blink when either cornea (not the conjunctiva, which is supplied by the adjacent cutaneous nerves) is irritated. If neither eye blinks, then either the ipsilateral nasociliary nerve is damaged, or the facial nerve (CN VII, which carries the efferent limb of this reflex) is bilaterally damaged. If only the contralateral eye blinks, then the ipsilateral facial nerve is damaged. If only the ipsilateral eye blinks, then the contralateral facial nerve is damaged.

Additional images


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

External links

  • Anatomy figure: 29:03-08 at Human Anatomy Online, SUNY Downstate Medical Center - "A deeper dissection of the right orbit from a superior approach."
  • lesson9 at The Anatomy Lesson by Wesley Norman (Georgetown University) (nasalseptumner)
  • cranialnerves at The Anatomy Lesson by Wesley Norman (Georgetown University) (V)
  • MedEd at Loyola GrossAnatomy/h_n/cn/cn1/cnb1.htm
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