Autonomic Nervous System for the Head and Neck

Cell Body Locations for the Sympathetic division of the autonomic NS

  • preganglionic cell bodies - intermediolateral cell column of T1 - T4
  • postganglionic cell bodies - superior cervical sympathetic trunk ganglion

Cell Body Locations for the Parasympathetic division of the autonomic NS

  • preganglionic cell bodies - located in the CNS
    • Edinger-Westphal nucleus (fibers travel in oculomotor n.)
    • lacrimal nucleus (greater superficial petrosal nerve of facial n.)
    • superior salivatory nucleus (chorda tympani of fascial n.)
    • inferior salivatory nucleus (lesser superficial petrosal n. of CN IX via recurrent tympanic branch)
  • postganglionic cell bodies (listed in order as postganglionic to the preganglionic locations above)
    • ciliary ganglion (fibers follow trigeminal short ciliary nn.)
    • pterygopalatine ganglion (follow branches of maxillary n.)
    • submandibular ganglion (follow lingual n.)
    • otic ganglion (follow auriculotemporal n.)

Sympathetic GVE functions (disruption causes Horner's syndrome)

  • Pupil dilation - pupil dilator m.
    • loss of pupil dilator results in pupil constriction (parasympathetic GVE to pupil constrictor m. is unopposed)
  • elevate superior tarsal plate - superior tarsal m. (Mueller's muscle) (if paralyzed - mild ptosis results)
    • loss of Mueller's muscle causes ptosis
  • Vasoconstriction - vessel smooth m.
    • loss of vasoconstriction causes, red eye (conjunctival injection), flushing, warm skin, nasal congestion (engorged erectile tissue of nasal cavity)
  • Sudomotor activity - sweating (exception to pharmacology - cholinergic)
    • loss of sudomotor causes dry skin
  • Viscous saliva secretion from submandibular gland
    • loss of viscous saliva reduces protection from trigeminal irritants

Parasympathetic GVE functions (CNs III, VII, IX)

  • pupil constriction - pupillary sphincter.
    • loss of pupil constrictor muscle causes pupil dilation by the unopposed dilator papillae muscle
  • accommodation - ciliary m.
    • loss of ciliary m. causes failure to focus on near objects
  • lacrimal secretion - tears
    • loss of lacrimation causes "dry eye"
  • mucus secretion
    • loss of mucus secretion causes dry mucosa of nasal cavity and of air sinuses leading to epistaxis (nose bleed)
  • salivation - submandibular gland, sublingual gland, parotid gland
    • loss of salivation causes difficulty in deglutition and digestion
Topic revision: r4 - 21 Nov 2019, LorenEvey
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