There is significant paucity in the literature regarding the vertebral nerve. Moreover, descriptions of this structure are conflicting. To evaluate further the anatomy and potential clinical significance of this structure, 10 fresh adult cadavers (20 sides) underwent dissection and macroscopic observation of this structure. All specimens were found to have a vertebral nerve that originated from the stellate ganglion with the exception of two left sides (10%) in which this nerve arose from the inferior cervical ganglion. This nerve ascended posteromedial to the vertebral artery. The vertebral nerve was found to be, in essence, a long and deep gray ramus communicans that connected most commonly the stellate ganglia to C6 or C7 spinal nerves by passing through the C6 and C7 transverse foramina. Fifteen percent of sides were found to have a vertebral nerve that was plexiform in its configuration. Fifty percent were found to have very small branches that entered the fibrous capsule of adjacent zygapophyseal and intervertebral joints. Some specimens were noted to have meningeal branches of the vertebral nerve. Based on our observations, the vertebral nerve is simply a deep ramus communicans, which often provides articular and meningeal branches to the adjacent spine. As neck pain is a significant reason for physician office visits, additional knowledge of the nerves innervating the joints and adjacent meninges of the neck could be important for both surgical and medical blockade of nerve fibers.
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