Skip to main content

Unfortunately we don't fully support your browser. If you have the option to, please upgrade to a newer version or use Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Safari 14 or newer. If you are unable to, and need support, please send us your feedback.

Elsevier
Publish with us
Posterior Root of Sixth Thoracic Nerve (Left)
Nervous System

Posterior Root of Sixth Thoracic Nerve (Left)

Radix posterior nervi thoracici sexti

Read more

Origin

The posterior root of the sixth thoracic nerve originates just lateral to or in the intervertebral foramen, between the sixth and seventh thoracic vertebrae. This corresponds to the point where the thoracic nerve splits into anterior and posterior roots.

Course

The posterior root of the sixth thoracic nerve runs from the intervertebral foramen medially towards the posterior side of the spinal cord. Because the intervertebral foramen is significantly lower than the corresponding spinal cord level, the posterior root must also ascend within the vertebral column. Adjacent to the appropriate spinal cord level, the posterior root splits into smaller rootlets, which enter the posterior spinal cord in line with the dorsal horn of the gray matter.

Branches

There are no branches of the posterior root of the sixth thoracic nerve. The proximal end of the posterior root has a bulge called the spinal (or dorsal root) ganglion, which is the location of the neuronal cell bodies of the neurons that form the posterior root.

Supplied Structures & Function

The posterior root of the sixth thoracic nerve carries all afferents from the sixth thoracic nerve, both somatic and visceral, to the sixth thoracic spinal segment of the spinal cord.

General somatic afferents originate in the sensory receptors of the periphery and convey sensations such as pain, temperature, and touch from the skin. Stretch receptors in muscles also send information on stretch via general somatic afferents.

The somatic afferents pass from either the posterior ramus or the anterior ramus of the sixth thoracic nerve into the sixth thoracic nerve itself. As they reach the medial border of the thoracic nerve, they segregate from the outgoing efferents by branching off to form the posterior root of the sixth thoracic nerve.

The posterior ramus of the sixth thoracic nerve conveys general somatic sense from the dorsal skin and epaxial muscles of the mid trunk to the posterior root of the sixth thoracic nerve.

The anterior ramus of the sixth thoracic nerve conveys general somatic sensations from the skin of the thoracic wall and muscles of the sixth intercostal space to the posterior root of the sixth thoracic nerve. Beginning at this level, sensory information from the upper ventral abdomen, both skin and muscles, begins to travel back via the nerves and posterior root of the sixth thoracic level.

General visceral afferents from the foregut and midgut travel back along the greater splanchnic nerve and into the sixth thoracic nerve, via the gray communicating branches (rami communicantes) of the sympathetic chain, before segregating into the posterior root of the sixth thoracic nerve. These continue into the posterior horn of the sixth thoracic spinal segment of the spinal cord.

List of Clinical Correlates

—Referred pain

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Thoracic Nerves

ScienceDirect image

The 12th thoracic nerve is called the subcostal nerve and is unique in that it gives off a branch to the first lumbar nerve, thus contributing to the lumbar plexus.

Explore on ScienceDirect(opens in new tab/window)

Complete Anatomy

The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform

Complete Anatomy