Neck Dissection

At first glance, the neck looks relatively simple. Surely such a mundane structure can’t be as difficult as the abdominal viscera, right? Wrong!

When you think about it, the neck incorporates a lot of important structures. Our trachea, esophagus, spinal cord, and major blood vessels are all contained in a cylindrical tube which has been fitted with all the necessary muscles to also provide an incredible range of motion.

Enter the hyoid bone: the only bone in the body which doesn’t articulate with another bone. Pretty cool since it’s just “floating” in the anterior neck. It’s also a focal point in the naming conventions for a lot of muscles in the area (ie, sternohyoid, thyrohyoid, stylohyoid, hyoglossus, mylohyoid, and geniohyoid).

Put the scalpel down, or else you’re guaranteed to cut one of the tiny branches of the external carotid artery. I remember missing the first lecture on neck anatomy. I downloaded the PowerPoint, started going through the content, and came across a slide with all the major branches. My first thought: “There’s no way we’ll have to know these.” Come to find out… we do. And a whole lot more. 🙂 Superior thoracic, ascending pharyngeal, lingual, facial, occipital, posterior auricular, marginal mandibular, and superficial temporal. *Whew*

Also, who would’ve thought that my favorite facial muscle (sternocleidomastoideus) and favorite muscle overall (trapezius) would be innervated by the same nerve (cranial nerve XI – the spinal accessory nerve)? Heh, I guess that makes it my favorite nerve by default. 🙂

Can’t wait till we get to look at the actual brain next block, but it’s incredible how elegant the neurovasculature and musculature of the head and neck have been so far. Looking forward to tomorrow’s lab!

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Try EchoTools - my free, iOS ultrasonography reference application!

Latest Articles