vagus nerve (right, anatomy)

Last reviewed 01/2018

The right vagus nerve gives off similar branches to the left vagus within the neck and thorax. However, having passed from the skull through the carotid sheaths to the root of the neck, the paths of the two vagi then differ, largely as a result of the disposition of great vessels within the thorax.

The right vagus enters the thorax posterior to the right brachiocephalic trunk but anterior to the right subclavian artery. Near the anterior surface of the subclavian artery it gives off branches to the cardiac plexuses. At the lower margin of the right subclavian artery it gives off its right recurrent laryngeal branch. It then passes inferiorly and medially to the lateral surface of the trachea from where it descends posteriorly. It then ramifies into a number of branches which form the interconnected pulmonary and oesophageal plexuses.

The oesophageal plexuses converge at the lower ends of the oesophagus to form the pulmonary trunks. The right vagus nerve forms the bulk of the posterior trunk.