Objective: This observational study on adult Taiwanese cadavers focused mainly on the intersection of buccal branches of the facial nerve with Stensen's duct, using the emergence of Stensen's duct as the reference landmark. Materials and methods: Thirty-five cadaveric hemifaces were included in our research. Samples with facial defects due to tumor, trauma, or surgery were all excluded. Buccal branches of the facial nerve were identified according to the Gray's Anatomy 40th edition definition. The distance was measured from the intersection to the emergence of Stensen's duct, running from the anterior border of the parotid gland. Results: In the 35 hemifaces, the number of buccal branch/Stensen's duct intersections ranged from 1 to 5 (average 2.49 ± 1.15). Two-point intersections accounted for 37% (13 hemifaces) of the sample, forming the largest group. Samples of facial nerve buccal branches were divided into four types: Type 1, with two buccal branches, accounted for 37.15% (13/35); Type 2, with three buccal branches, made up 48.59% (17/35) of our samples — the biggest group (Type 2-a was the most frequent pattern among our samples, with two superior buccal branches and one inferior buccal branch, accounting for 34.31% of our samples); Type 3, with four buccal branches, accounted for only 5.7%. Three cases of double Stensen's duct were classified as Type 4, though this is supposed to be a very rare anatomical variation. With Type 2a, the most frequent pattern among our specimens, the distance from the emergence of the Stensen's duct to the emergence point of the first superior buccal branch along the anterior border of the parotid gland was 9.58 ± 5.68 mm. The distance from the emergence point to the emergence of the inferior buccal branch along the anterior border of the parotid gland was 11.03 ± 5.38 mm. The distance (D1) from Stensen's duct to the emergence of the first superiorly located buccal branch of the group Type 2-a was statistically different from the distance (D1) of the other groups (p = 0.02). No direct anastomoses or communicating fibers between upper and lower buccal branches were noted in 11 hemifaces (31%). Conclusion: The distribution of buccal branches was described using the emergence of Stensen's duct as a reference landmark. According to our observations, the relationship between the buccal branches and Stensen's duct was much more complicated than described in previous studies. This was the first study to investigate the complete distribution of buccal branches of the facial nerve emerging from the anterior of the parotid gland, and their relative locations and branching numbers.
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