Cranial Nerves One to Six

Author: Helen Blackhurst / Editor: Clifford J Mann / Reviewers: Louise Burrows, Joshua Davison / Codes: A5 /
Published: 18/02/2021


Cranial nerve injuries are important clinical signs, which alert the examiner to intracranial pathology. This session will look at the more common traumatic and medical causes of cranial nerve injury.

After completing this session you will be able to:

  • Identify the clinically relevant anatomy of each cranial nerve
  • Explain how to functionally assess cranial nerves
  • Describe the aetiology and consequences of cranial nerve trauma that might present to the emergency department (ED)
  • Describe the common medical causes of acute cranial nerve dysfunction
  • Explain the value of computerised tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of lesions, with examples of typical findings
  • Formulate a suitable assessment and investigative strategy for a patient presenting with a cranial nerve palsy


  1. SWAN, I. J. and BAUZA-RODRIGUES, B. (2006) The significance of post traumatic amnesia as a risk factor in the development of olfactory dysfunction following head injury. Emerg. Med. J., 23, pp. 618-621.
  2. GULY, C.M. and GULY, H. R. (2006) Ocular injuries in patients with major trauma. Emerg. Med. J., 23, pp. 915-917.
  3. ARMSTRONG, P. A. R. and NICHOL, N. M. (2005) An eye for trouble: orbital cellulitis. Emerg. Med. J., 23, p. e66.
  4. MUTHU, P. and PRITTY, P. (2001) Mild head injury with isolated third nerve palsy. Emerg. Med. J., 18, pp. 310-311.

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