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Definition of «Accessory nerve»

Accessory nerveAccessory nerveAccessory nerve

Accessory nerve: The eleventh cranial nerve, which emerges from the skull and receives an additional (accessory) root from the upper part of the spinal cord. It supplies the sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles. The sternocleidomastoid muscle is in the front of the neck and turns the head. The trapezius muscle moves the scapula (the wingbone), turns the face to the opposite side, and helps pull the head back. The accessory nerve is so-called because, although it arises in the brain, it receives an additional (accessory) root from the upper part of the spinal cord.

Damage to the accessory nerve can be isolated (confined to the accessory nerve) or it may also involve the ninth and tenth cranial nerves which exit through the same opening (foramen) from the skull . Accessory neuropathy (nerve disease) can sometimes occur and recur for unknown reasons. Most patients recover.

Paralysis of the accessory nerve prevents rotation of the head away from that side and causes drooping of the shoulder.

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