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Atlas - Neurovasculature of the tongue

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The tongue is an organ of the oral cavity. Its main functions include assisting with the formation of speech, mastication, swallowing and clearing the oral cavity. Arteries that supply the tongue arise from the external carotid artery which is one of the two main divisions of the common carotid artery.

The lingual artery arises from the external carotid and courses beneath the hypoglossus muscles. It gives off the dorsal lingual artery, deep lingual artery and the sublingual artery. These branches of the lingual artery supply the intrinsic muscles of the tongue as well as the floor of the mouth.

The venous drainage of the tongue is carried out by the following venous vessels; the dorsal lingual vein and the deep lingual vein drain the musculature of tongue and open into the lingual vein which in turn drains into the internal jugular vein. The vena comitans of the hypoglossal nerve can either open to the lingual vein as well or it may follow the hypoglossal nerve and open into the facial vein which drains into the internal jugular vein. The retromandibular vein also opens into the facial vein and the internal jugular vein via its anterior and posterior branches respectively.

The lingual nerve is a branch of the mandibular nerve (CN V3) and it supplies sensory fibers to the anterior two thirds of the tongue, the floor of the mouth and the submandibular and sublingual glands. Suspended from the lingual nerve is a ganglion known as the submandibular ganglion, which also receives a branch from the chorda tympanii nerve. The hypoglossal nerve (CN XII) supplies motoric branches to the tongue.

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