Olivary body

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In anatomy, the olivary bodies or simply olives (Latin oliva and olivae, singular and plural, respectively) are a pair of prominent oval structures in the medulla oblongata, the lower portion of the brainstem. They contain the olivary nuclei.

External anatomy

The olivary body is located on the anterior surface of the medulla lateral to the pyramid, from which it is separated by the antero-lateral sulcus and the fibers of the hypoglossal nerve.

Behind, it is separated from the postero-lateral sulcus by the ventral spinocerebellar fasciculus. In the depression between the upper end of the olive and the pons lies the vestibulocochlear nerve.

In humans, it measures about 1.25 cm. in length, and between its upper end and the pons there is a slight depression to which the roots of the facial nerve are attached.

The external arcuate fibers wind across the lower part of the pyramid and olive and enter the inferior peduncle.

Olivary nuclei

The olivary nuclei consist of the following nuclei:

  • The medial accessory olivary nucleus lies between the inferior olivary nucleus and the pyramid, and forms a curved lamina, the concavity of which is directed laterally. The fibers of the hypoglossal nerve, as they traverse the medulla, pass between the medial accessory and the inferior olivary nuclei.
  • The dorsal accessory olivary nucleus is the smallest, and appears on transverse section as a curved lamina behind the inferior olivary nucleus.

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