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Neck Anatomy

Learn about the complex anatomy of the neck, including the muscles, bones, and ligaments that make up this vital part of the body.
2023-01-01

Review of Neck Anatomy

The neck is a complex anatomical structure composed of skeletal, muscular, ligamentous, vascular, and neural components. This review will discuss the anatomy of the neck, focusing on the skeletal, muscular, and ligamentous components.

Skeletal Anatomy

The skeletal anatomy of the neck includes the cervical vertebrae, which are composed of seven individual vertebrae. These vertebrae are numbered C1 (atlas) to C7 (vertebra prominens). The cervical vertebrae have specific features that are unique from other vertebrae in the spine.

C1, the atlas, is capable of rotation, allowing for the head to turn from side to side. C2, the axis, has a dens (odontoid process) that is the pivot point for the atlas. The dens is a bony projection that sticks out from the body of the axis and fits into a notch on the atlas.

The other cervical vertebrae (C3-C7) are similar in structure. They have a body, vertebral arch, and spinous process. The vertebral arch consists of two pedicles, two laminae, and two transverse processes. The pedicles and laminae form a vertebral foramen, which houses the spinal cord. The spinous process is a bony projection that can be felt on the posterior surface of the neck.

The cervical vertebrae are also connected by intervertebral discs which provide cushioning and shock absorption for the spine.

Muscular Anatomy

The muscles of the neck are divided into two groups: the superficial muscles and the deep muscles. The superficial muscles include the sternocleidomastoid, trapezius, splenius capitis, and levator scapulae muscles.

The sternocleidomastoid muscle is a two-headed muscle that originates from the sternum and clavicle and inserts on the mastoid process of the temporal bone. It is responsible for flexion, extension, and lateral rotation of the head and neck.

The trapezius muscle is a broad, triangular muscle that originates from the occipital bone and inserts at the scapula. It is responsible for head elevation, shoulder abduction and depression, and scapular upward rotation.

The splenius capitis and levator scapulae muscles are both located in the posterior neck. The splenius capitis muscle originates from the spinous processes of the vertebrae and inserts on the occipital bone. It is responsible for head extension and lateral rotation. The levator scapulae muscle originates from the transverse processes of the vertebrae and inserts at the scapula. It is responsible for head elevation and scapular depression.

The deep muscles of the neck include the scalene, longus capitis, and longus colli muscles. These muscles are located in the posterior neck and originate from the cervical vertebrae. They are responsible for neck flexion, extension, and lateral rotation.

Ligamentous Anatomy

The ligaments of the neck provide stability to the cervical spine. These ligaments include the anterior and posterior longitudinal ligaments, the ligamentum flavum, and the interspinous and supraspinous ligaments.

The anterior and posterior longitudinal ligaments run along the anterior and posterior surfaces of the vertebral bodies, respectively. They provide anterior and posterior stability to the spine.

The ligamentum flavum connects the laminae of adjacent vertebrae and prevents hyperextension of the neck. The interspinous and supraspinous ligaments connect the spinous processes of adjacent vertebrae and prevent hyperflexion of the neck.

Conclusion

The neck is a complex anatomical structure composed of skeletal, muscular, and ligamentous components. Understanding the anatomy of the neck is important for the proper diagnosis and treatment of neck conditions. The skeletal anatomy of the neck includes the cervical vertebrae, which are composed of seven individual vertebrae. The muscles of the neck are divided into two groups: the superficial muscles and the deep muscles. The ligaments of the neck provide stability to the cervical spine.

By understanding the anatomy of the neck, healthcare practitioners are better able to diagnose and treat neck conditions.

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