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Anatomy Atlases: Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus III: Nervous System: Plexuses: Lesser Occipital Nerve

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus III: Nervous System: Plexuses

Lesser Occipital Nerve

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

Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed

The lesser occipital nerve may be very small and distributed only to the skin of the neck. In such cases, the greater occipital nerve supplies the areas usually supplied by the lesser occipital. In some cases instead of its usual dorsal and upward course beneath the deep fascia along the posterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, the lesser occipital nerve passes directly backward, piercing the trapezius muscle near its upper border before reaching the scalp.

The auricular branch of the lesser occipital nerve may be derived from the greater occipital. It usually arises from the second and third cervical nerves or from the second and third cervical nerves or from the loop between them.


Cordier, -., Coulouma, -., Devos, -. et -. Delcroix. (1936) Contribution a l'étude de la constitution du plexus cervical chez l'homme et quelques primates. Assoc. Anatomistes Comptes Rendus 31:114-123.

Henle, J. (1868) Handbuch der Systematischen Anatomie des Menschen. von Friedrich Vieweg und Sohn, Braunschweig.

Jackson, C.M., Ed. (1933) Morris' Human Anatomy, 9th ed., P. Blakiston's Son & Co., Inc., Philadelphia

Latarjet, A. (1948) Testut's Traité d'Anatomie Humaine, 9th ed., G. Doin & Co., Paris

Schaefer, E.A., Symington, J. and T.H. Bryce., Eds. (1915) Quain's Anatomy, 11th ed., Longmans, Green, and Co., London.

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