Abducens Nerve Cranial Nerve VI

The abducens nucleus is medial and dorsal at the pontomedullary junction, separated from the floor of the fourth ventricle by the genu of the facial nerve. Within the abducens nucleus, lateral rectus motor neurons intermix with internuclear neurons, sending their axons across to the opposite MLF and then to the contralateral third cranial nerve. Axons of the sixth cranial nerve course almost directly ventral and exit from the pons near the midline. The axons emerge in the horizontal sulcus between the pons and medulla, lateral to the bundles of the corticospinal tract. The sixth cranial nerve ascends underneath the pons in the prepontine cistern and enters Dorello's canal beneath Gruber's (petroclinoid) ligament. Within the cavernous sinus, the nerve is situated between the carotid artery medially and the ophthalmic branch of the fifth cranial nerve. The large cells of the abducens nucleus innervate the lateral rectus muscle, while a small cell population innervates the contralateral medial rectus subnucleus of the oculomotor complex (third cranial nerve) via the MLF.

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