Surgical anatomy of the lingual nerve for palate surgery: where is located and how to avoid it
Octavio Garaycochea 1 2 , Peter Baptista 3 , Marta Calvo-Imirizaldu 3 , David Terrasa 3 , Antonio Moffa 4 , Manuele Casale 4 , Juan Alcalde 3 , Carlos O'Connor-Reina 5 , Guillermo Plaza 6 , Secundino Fernández 3
Purpose: To describe the anatomic relationship of the lingual nerve with the lateral oropharyngeal structures.
Methods: An anatomic dissection of the lateral oropharyngeal wall was conducted in eight sides from four fresh-frozen cadaveric heads. Small titanium clips were placed along the lingual nerve and the most anterior and medial border of the medial pterygoid muscle. Radiological reconstructions were employed for optimal visualization; the coronal view was preferred to resemble the surgical position. The distance between the lingual nerve and the medial pterygoid muscle at its upper and lower portion was measured radiologically. The trajectory angle of the lingual nerve with respect to the pterygomandibular raphe was obtained from the intersection between the vector generated between the clips connecting the upper and lower portion of the medial pterygoid muscle with the vector generated from the lingual nerve clips.
Results: The mean distance from the upper portion of the medial pterygoid muscle and superior lingual nerve clips was 10.16 ± 2.18 mm (mean ± standard deviation), and the lower area of the medial pterygoid muscle to the lingual nerve was separated 5.05 ± 1.49 mm. The trajectory angle of the lingual nerve concerning to the vector that describes the upper portion of the most anterior and medial border of the medial pterygoid muscle with its lower part was 43.73º ± 11.29.
Conclusions: The lingual nerve runs lateral to the lateral oropharyngeal wall, from superiorly-inferiorly and laterally-medially, and it is closer to it at its lower third.