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Dissection Through Superficial Branches of the Facial Nerve

Surgical Correlation


A, The branches of the facial nerve, which form a fine plexus in the fat pad overlying the temporalis fascia and are directed to the orbicularis oculi and frontalis muscle, have been dissected free and a small piece of black material placed deep to their fine branches to highlight this neural network in the fat pad. B, Enlarged view of the facial nerve plexus innervating the orbicularis oculi and frontalis muscle. C, Lateral view of the structures superficial to the anterior and middle cranial base. The frontotemporal and zygomatic branches of the facial nerve are exposed anterior to the parotid gland. The orbicularis oculi surrounds the orbit, and the frontalis muscle extends upward from the superior orbital rim. The levators of the lip and zygomaticus muscles are located in front of the maxilla. The orbicularis oris surrounds the mouth and the buccinator muscle surrounds the oral cavity deep to the masseter muscle. The parotid duct crosses the masseter muscle. The superficial temporal artery divides into anterior and posterior branches. The parotid gland has been removed to show the branches of the facial nerve. D, The parotid gland has been removed to expose the facial nerve exiting the stylomastoid foramen. The facial nerve branch to the frontalis muscle has been preserved in the dissection and has been laid back against the temporalis muscle to show it crossing the zygomatic arch in its course to the forehead. The superficial temporal artery passes deep to the facial nerve in front of the ear. E, Masseter muscle has been removed to expose the temporalis muscle inserting on the coronoid process. The buccinator muscle, which surrounds the oral cavity, is situated on the deep side of the masseter muscle. (Images courtesy of AL Rhoton, Jr.)