Neck Surface Anatomy

Neck Surface Anatomy

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Surface Anatomy of the Neck

The neck is a complex region of anatomy, and its surface can be used to separate two main regions: the anterior and posterior triangles. Both of these areas are located bilaterally and contain subdivisions that show the location of specific structures.

Anterior Triangle

The anterior triangle is created by the inferior border of the mandible, the anterior border of sternocleidomastoid, and a sagittal midline plane in the neck. It consists of four main subdivisions:

  • The carotid triangle indicates the location of the bifurcation of the common carotid artery, the internal jugular vein, and cranial nerves X and XII.
  • The muscular triangle includes the infrahyoid muscles and midline structures such as the pharynx and thyroid gland.
  • The submandibular triangle contains the submandibular salivary glands, lymph nodes, facial artery, and vein.
  • The submental triangle marks the location of the submental lymph nodes.

Posterior Triangle

The posterior triangle is formed by the anterior border of trapezius, the posterior border of sternocleidomastoid, and the superior border of the clavicle. This region is divided into two subdivisions by the inferior belly of omohyoid: the larger occipital triangle and the smaller subclavian triangle.

  • The subclavian triangle holds the distal end of the subclavian artery.
  • The occipital triangle has a floor of vertebral muscles contained within the prevertebral fascia. Within these muscles, the cervical plexus forms. Superficially, the trunks of the brachial plexus, the accessory nerve (cranial nerve XI), and the external jugular vein can be found.

The neck is an intricate region of the anatomy, and a careful study of its surface anatomy is essential for a true understanding of the muscular and vascular structures found within. By delineating the anterior and posterior triangles, and further demarcating the various subdivisions of each region, the complex network of essential structures of the neck can be clearly visualised.

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