, Volume 107, Issue 1, pp 1–9 | Cite as

The lingual nerve: overview and new insights into anatomical variability based on fine dissection using human cadavers

  • Mounir GhabrielEmail author
  • Kojiro Takezawa
  • Grant Townsend
Review Article


This article, for both researchers and clinicians, presents an overview of the lingual nerve and highlights how new insights into human anatomical variability can be gained by integrating fine dissection of cadavers with neuroanatomical approaches, microscopic studies, and morphometric techniques. Textbooks mainly provide descriptions of the typical or common gross anatomical appearance of structures in the human body with little reference to the nature and extent of variation that may be encountered within and between populations. Furthermore, few texts attempt to integrate descriptions of the regional distribution and branching of neural structures with their central connections or their microscopic anatomy. Using the lingual nerve as an example from the head and neck region, we show that there is still an important place for detailed fine dissections of human cadavers when they are also integrated with morphometric techniques applied to data representing observed variation at both macro- and micro-levels. It is essential that health professionals have a sound understanding of the nature and extent of anatomical variation displayed normally by their patients so that they can perform procedures, such as local anaesthesia and surgery, safely and also be able to correctly diagnose pathology when it is present.


Cranial nerves Lingual nerve Inferior alveolar nerve Dental anaesthesia Anatomical variations 



We would like to thank the staff of the Ray Last Anatomy Laboratory at the University of Adelaide for their technical assistance. Dr. Kojiro Takezawa received support from School of Life Dentistry at Niigata, Japan, to undertake post-doctoral studies in the Adelaide Dental School. We would like to thank the reviewers for suggesting the addition of a summary table and providing an example.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Society of The Nippon Dental University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Adelaide Medical SchoolThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Adelaide Dental SchoolThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Anatomy, School of Life Dentistry at NiigataThe Nippon Dental UniversityNiigata CityJapan

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