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Suboccipital Nerve
Nervous System

Suboccipital Nerve

Nervus suboccipitalis

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The posterior ramus of the first cervical nerve is also referred to as the suboccipital nerve. It originates from the first cervical nerve as it divides into anterior and posterior rami.


The posterior ramus passes posteriorly to emerge superior to the posterior arch of atlas and enters the suboccipital triangle to innervate the muscles in that region.


There are no named branches of the suboccipital nerve.

Supplied Structures

The posterior ramus, or suboccipital nerve innervates muscles of the suboccipital triangle (rectus capitis posterior major and minor, obliquus capitis superior and inferior) and semispinalis capitis.

Small filaments from the meninges and the atlantooccipital joint join the suboccipital nerve (or the posterior ramus) which conveys sensory information to the first cervical nerve and its posterior root (Ouaknine & Nathan, 1973).


Ouaknine, G. & Nathan, H. (1973) Anastomotic connections between the eleventh nerve and the posterior root of the first cervical nerve in humans. J Neurosurg, 38(2), 189-97.

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Suboccipital Nerve

ScienceDirect image

The suboccipital nerve is the dorsal ramus of C1 and is located between the vertebral artery and posterior arch.

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