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The Zygomaticotemporal Branch of the Trigeminal Nerve: An Anatomical Study

Totonchi, Ali M.D.; Pashmini, Nazly M.D.; Guyuron, Bahman M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: January 2005 - Volume 115 - Issue 1 - p 273-277
doi: 10.1097/01.PRS.0000145639.42257.4F

This study was conducted to determine the site of emergence of the zygomaticotemporal branch of the trigeminal nerve from the temporalis muscle and to identify the number of its accessory branches and their locations. A pilot study, conducted on the same number of patients, concluded that the main zygomaticotemporal branch emerges from the deep temporal fascia at a point on average 17 mm lateral and 6 mm cephalad to the lateral palpebral commissure, commonly referred to as the lateral canthus. These measurements, however, were obtained after dissection of the temporal area, rendering the findings less reliable. The current study included 20 consecutive patients, 19 women and one man, between the ages of 26 and 85 years, with an average age of 47.6 years. Those who had a history of previous trauma or surgery in the temple area were excluded. Before the start of the endoscopic forehead procedure, the likely topographic site of the zygomaticotemporal branch was marked 17 mm lateral and 6 mm cephalad to the lateral orbital commissure on the basis of the information extrapolated from the pilot study. The surface mark was then transferred to the deeper layers using a 25-gauge needle stained with brilliant green. After endoscopic exposure of the marked site, the distance between the main branch of the trigeminal nerve or its accessory branches and the tattoo mark was measured in posterolateral and cephalocaudal directions. In addition, the number and locations of the accessory branches of the trigeminal nerve were recorded. On the left side, the average distance of the emergence site of the main zygomaticotemporal branch of the trigeminal nerve from the palpebral fissure was 16.8 mm (range, 12 to 31 mm) in the posterolateral direction and an average of 6.4 mm (range, 4 to 11 mm) in the cephalad direction. On the right side, the average measurements for the main branch were 17.1 mm (range, 15 to 21 mm) in the lateral direction and 6.65 mm (range, 5 to 11 mm) in the cephalic direction. Three types of accessory branches were found in relation to the main branch: (1) accessory branch cephalad, (2) accessory branch lateral, and (3) accessory branches in the immediate vicinity of the main branch. This anatomical information has proven colossally helpful in injection of botulinum toxin A in the temporalis muscle to eliminate the trigger sites in the parietotemporal region and surgical management of migraine headaches triggered from this zone.

Cleveland, Ohio

From the Division of Plastic Surgery, Case Western Reserve University, and the American Migraine Center.

Received for publication September 16, 2003; revised January 15, 2004.

Bahman Guyuron, M.D., 29017 Cedar Road, Lyndhurst, Ohio 44124,

©2005American Society of Plastic Surgeons