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Abducens nerve

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noun, plural: abducens nerves

The cranial nerve that innervates the lateral rectus muscle of the eye


Cranial nerves are paired nerves that emerge from the brain and the brainstem. They supply the motor pathways between organs in the face and the upper body, and account for detecting and processing various sensations. One of the cranial nerves is the abducens nerve, which is also referred to as the sixth cranial nerve or cranial nerve VI (CN VI).

In humans and other vertebrates, the abducens nerve is the pair of nerves that innervates the lateral rectus muscle of the eye. This cranial nerve works together with the cranial nerve III and the cranial nerve IV in controlling movements of the eyeballs. This nerve is mainly motor in function, meaning that the information transmitted through this nerve is a response deriving from interneurones based in the central nervous system.

Due to the long course of this nerve runs between the brainstem and the eye, it is at risk to various injuries. Aneurysms of the intracavernous carotid artery and fractures of the petrous temporal bone may bring damage to this nerve. Lesions in abducens nerve will result in deviation of the eyeball outward and diplopia (double vision).


  • abducent nerve


  • cranial nerve VI (CN VI)
  • sixth cranial nerve

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