The trigeminal nerve (the fifth cranial nerve, or simply CN V) is a nerve responsible for sensation in the face and certain motor functions such as biting and chewing. It is the largest of the cranial nerves. Its name (“trigeminal” = tri- or three, and -geminus or twin, or thrice twinned) derives from the fact that each trigeminal nerve, one on each side of the pons, has three major branches: the ophthalmic nerve (V1), the maxillary nerve (V2), and the mandibular nerve (V3). The ophthalmic and maxillary nerves are purely sensory. The mandibular nerve has both cutaneous and motor functions.
Sensory information from the face and body is processed by parallel pathways in the central nervous system. The motor division of the trigeminal nerve is derived from the basal plate of the embryonic pons, while the sensory division originates from the cranial neural crest.
see Trigeminal neuralgia.
Ruiz-Juretschke et al., describes the vascular relations of the trigeminal nerve in the cerebellopontine angle (CPA) in 100 subjects without known Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) studied with 3.0T FIESTA (Fast Imaging Employing Steady-state Acquisition) MRI sequence. A NVC was observed in 142 (71%) of the 200 nerves with a 75% rate of bilateral NVC. Of the nerves with NVC, 92.3% showed a mere contact (Grade 1) without distortion and 78% occurred at the cisternal segment. This most common vessel causing the NVC was a vein (66%) followed by the superior cerebellar artery (28%). No significant reduction in diameter suggesting atrophy was seen in the nerves with NVC. The results indicate a high rate of mild, distal and predominantly venous vascular contact with the trigeminal nerve at the CPA in asymptomatic individuals. This clearly contrasts with the usual pattern of NVC observed in TN that is generally a severe, proximal, and arterial compression. Knowledge about the frequent NVC in asymptomatic individuals and its features is essential for interpreting preoperative MRI in patients with refractory classical TN considered for surgery 1).