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Anatomy Atlases: Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus III: Nervous System: Cranial Nerves and Ganglia: Abducens (CN VI) Nerve

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus III: Nervous System: Cranial Nerves and Ganglia

Abducens (CN VI) Nerve

Ronald A. Bergman, PhD
Adel K. Afifi, MD, MS
Ryosuke Miyauchi, MD

Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed

Several variations have been reported in the course and/or distribution of this nerve. It may be absent on one side, in which case the extraocular muscle usually innervated by the abducens (the lateral rectus) is supplied by the oculomotor nerve. The abducens may leave the brain stem not as a single bundle but as several widely separated fascicles emerging from the lower border of the pons or between fibers of the pyramid.

The abducens occasionally furnishes a branch to the superior rectus, or to the nasociliary nerve or even to the ciliary ganglion.

The abducens nerve to the abducens muscle may be found doubled.


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Wysiadecki G., Polguj M., and Topol M. (2016) An unusual variant of the abducens nerve duplication with two nerve trunks merging within the orbit: a case report with comments on developmental background. Surg Radiol Anat 38:625–629.

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