Hypoglossal Nerve

Cranial nerve XII does not traverse the jugular foramen, but joins CN IX, X, and XI as they exit the foramen into the carotid sheath. After passing through the hypoglossal canal, CN XII courses adjacent to CN X and then separates from it and descends laterally in the interval between the ICA and internal jugular vein. At the level of the transverse process of the atlas, the main fibers of CN XII turn abruptly anteriorly along the lateral surface of the ICA en route to the tongue, whereas the remaining fibers, the ansa cervicalis, descend with the major vessels in the neck.

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