Abducens nerve

The abducens nerve or abducent nerve, also known as the sixth cranial nervecranial nerve VI, or simply CN VI, is a cranial nerve in humans and various other animals that controls the movement of the lateral rectus muscle, one of the extraocular muscles responsible for outward gaze. It is a somatic efferent nerve. The nerve originates from the nucleus of the abducens nerve of the pons tegmentum, emerges from the bulbopontine groove above the bulb pyramids, and its fibers course forward, upward, and laterally immersed in the cephalorachid fluid of the subarachnoid space to the apex of the petrous rock of the temporalis where it enters the cavernous sinus of the dura mater. Placed lateral to the internal carotid artery, it travels through the cavernous sinus, from which it exits to enter the superior orbital fissure of the sphenoid, passing within the common tendon ring of the eye muscles. In the orbital cavity it heads laterally, then arranging itself on the medial aspect of the lateral rectus muscle of the eye to which it distributes itself.

The abducens nerve also contains a small contingent of somatic sensory fibers that carry proprioceptive stimuli from the lateral rectus muscle. In the cavernous sinus of the dura mater these fibers pass to the ophthalmic nerve.

The abducens nucleus also contains internuclear neurons whose axons enter the constitution of the medial longitudinal fasciculus, directed toward the nucleus of the oculomotor nerve that innervates the medial rectus muscle.

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