Vagus Nerve Pain Referred to the Craniofacial Region. A Case Report and Literature Review With Implications for Referred Cardiac Pain

Br Dent J. 2008 Feb 23;204(4):187-9. doi: 10.1038/bdj.2008.101.


The pain of angina pectoris and myocardial infarction is sometimes referred to the head and neck region. The mechanism for this effect remains obscure. A case is presented here that reports that electrical stimulation of a cardiac branch of the left vagus nerve in humans can cause referred craniofacial pain. This leads to the hypothesis that the vagus nerve plays a role in mediating this pain. A review of the clinical and physiologic literature supports this hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angina Pectoris / physiopathology*
  • Electric Stimulation / instrumentation
  • Facial Pain / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Ischemia / complications*
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Pain, Referred*
  • Toothache / etiology
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*