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Nerves 

Nerves

Chapter:
Nomenclature
Author(s):

Harriet S. Meyer

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Nerves

Most nerves have names (eg, ulnar nerve or nervus ulnaris). English names are preferred to Latin. For terminology, consult a medical dictionary, anatomy text, or Terminologia Anatomica.1

Cranial Nerves.

The cranial nerves are as follows:

Nerve

English Name

Latin Name

I

olfactory

olfactorius

II

optic

opticus

III

oculomotor

oculomotorius

IV

trochlear

trochlearis

V

trigeminal

trigeminus

VI

abducens

abducens

VII

facial

facialis

VIII

vestibulocochlear

vestibulocochlearis (acoustic)

IX

glossopharyngeal

glossopharyngeus

X

vagus

vagus

XI

accessory

accessorius

XII

hypoglossal

hypoglossus

Use roman numerals or English names when designating cranial nerves:

Cranial nerves III, IV, and VI are responsible for ocular movement.

The oculomotor, trochlear, and abducens nerves are responsible for ocular movement.

Use ordinals when the numeric adjectival form is used:

The third, fourth, and sixth cranial nerves are responsible for ocular movement.

Vertebrae, Spinal Nerves, Spinal Levels, Dermatomes, and Somites.

These entities share a common nomenclature, deriving from spinal anatomic regions: cervical (neck), thoracic (trunk), lumbar (lower back), sacral (pelvis), and coccygeal (coccyx or tailbone).

Spinal nerves C1 through C7 are named for the vertebrae above which they emerge, while T1 through S5 are named for the vertebrae below which they emerge. Spinal nerve C8 emerges below vertebra C7; there is no C8 vertebra.

Vertebrae and spinal nerves are as follows.

Region

Vertebrae

Spinal Nerves

cervical

C1 through C7

C1 through C8

thoracic

T1 through T12

T1 through T12

lumbar

L1 through L5

L1 through L5

sacrum

S1 through S5

S1 through S5

coccyx

4 fused, not individually designated

coccygeal nerve

The alphanumeric terms need not be expanded and, when clear in context, “vertebra” and “nerve” need not be repeated:

The first cervical vertebra is also known as the atlas, C2 as the axis, and C7 as the vertebra prominens.

Portions of a vertebra may be referred to as follows, ie, without the term vertebra:

C5 spinous process

L3 lamina

T12 transverse process

Hyphens are used for intervertebral spaces (including neural foramina) and intervertebral disks, as follows:

Space

Disk

C2-3 (space between C2 and C3)

C2-3 disk

T2-3 (space between T2 and T3)

T2-3 disk

L2-3 (space between L2 and L3)

L2-3 disk

C7-T1 (space between C7 and T1)

C7-T1 disk

L5-S1 (space between L5 and S1)

L5-S1 disk

L4-5 diskectomy

(Note: Terminologia Anatomica uses disc, not disk. See also 11.0, Correct and Preferred Usage.)

The sacrum, because its vertebrae are fused, does not contain intervertebral spaces. Its 4 paired foramina are commonly referred to as the first sacral foramen (or S1 foramen), second sacral foramen (or S2 foramen), etc.

Ranges of vertebrae are expressed as in the following examples; use letters for both the first and last vertebra in the indicated range:

C3 through C7

third through seventh cervical vertebrae (not C3 through 7)

T6 through S1

sixth thoracic through first sacral vertebrae

Ranges of vertebrae when used as modifiers have one or more hyphens, eg:

C1-C3 arthrodesis

C2-T1 spinous processes

C4-T3 fusion

L1-L2-L3 motion segments

L1-L4 bone mass density

L2-S1 canal stenosis

L3-L4-L5 fusion

L4-L5 laminectomy

erosion of T9-T12 vertebrae

The same abbreviations are used for spinal segments or levels, spinal dermatomes, and somites. Text should indicate which is being referred to, eg, vertebra, spinal nerve (or root, radiculopathy, or distribution), spinal level, dermatome, or somite. Within a clear context, as noted above, the words vertebra, nerve, etc, need not be repeated.

Serious injury of the cervical cord at the level of the C2-C5 vertebrae causes respiratory paralysis due to injury of spinal nerves C3 through C5.

The first patient had herpes zoster in the T9 dermatomal distribution, the second patient in the C5 distribution.

L1-S2 radiculopathy

L3-L4-L5 periradicular infiltration

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