Parts of the neck

Neck Anatomy

The muscles of the neck can be grouped according to their location. Those immediately in front and behind the spine are the prevertebral, postvertebral, and lateral vertebral muscles and on the side the neck are the lateral cervical muscles. In addition, a unique superficial muscle, the platysma, exists.

Superficial Muscle

The platysma muscles are paired broad muscles located on either side of the neck. The platysma arises from a subcutaneous layer and fascia covering the pectoralis major and deltoid at the level of the first or second rib and is inserted into the lower border of the mandible, the risorius, and the platysma of the opposite side. It is supplied by the cervical branch of the facial nerve. The platysma depresses the lower lip and forms ridges in the skin of the neck and upper chest when the jaws are “clenched” denoting stress or anger. It also serves to draw down the lower lip and angle of the mouth in the expression of melancholy.

Sternocleidomastoid

The sternocleidomastoid is the prominent muscle on the side of the neck. It arises from the sternum and clavicle by 2 heads. The medial or sternal head arises from the upper part of the anterior surface of the manubrium sterni and is directed upward, lateralward, and backward.

The lateral or clavicular head, which is flatter, arises from the superior border and anterior surface of the medial third of the clavicle; it is directed almost vertically upward. The 2 heads are separated from each other at their origins by a triangular interval, but they gradually blend, below the middle of the neck, into a thick, rounded muscle. It is inserted by a strong tendon into the lateral surface of the mastoid process, from its apex to its superior border, and by a thin aponeurosis into the lateral half of the superior nuchal line of the occipital bone. It is supplied by the accessory nerve and branches from the anterior rami of the second and third cervical nerves.

When only one side of the muscle acts, it draws the head toward the shoulder of the same side and rotates the head toward the opposite side. Acting together from their sternoclavicular attachments, the muscles flex the cervical part of the vertebral column. If the head is fixed, the 2 muscles assist in elevating the thorax in forced inspiration.

Trapezius

The trapezius arises from the spinous processes of the cervical and thoracic vertebrae and inserts on the spine of the scapula and acromion; it is innervated by the spinal accessory nerve and branches from the third and fourth cervical roots. Its upper fibers shrug the shoulder and aid in suspension of the shoulder girdle (see the image below).

Anterior cervical muscles.

Anterior cervical muscles

Muscles in the front of the neck are the suprahyoid and infrahyoid muscles and the anterior vertebral muscles (see the images below).

The suprahyoid muscles are the digastrics, stylohyoid, mylohyoid, and geniohyoid.

The infrahyoid muscles are the sternohyoid, sternothyroid, thyrohyoid, and omohyoid.

Muscles in the front of the neck.The anterior vertebral muscles.

Suprahyoid Muscles

The suprahyoid muscles perform 2 very important actions. During the act of swallowing they raise the hyoid bone and, with it, the base of the tongue; when the hyoid bone is fixed by its depressors, they depress the mandible. During the initial phase of swallowing, when the food is shifted from the mouth into the pharynx, the hyoid bone and with it the tongue are carried upward and forward by the anterior bellies of the digastrics, the mylohyoids, and geniohyoids.

In the next phase, when the food passes through the pharynx, the direct elevation of the hyoid bone takes place by the combined action of all the muscles; after the food has passed, the hyoid bone is carried upward and backward by the posterior bellies of the digastrics and the stylohyoids, which assist in preventing the return of the food into the mouth.

The digastric muscle consists of 2 fleshy bellies united by an intermediate tendon. It lies below the body of the mandible and extends, in a curved form, from the mastoid process to the symphysis menti. The posterior belly, longer than the anterior, arises from the mastoid notch of the temporal bone and passes downward and forward. The anterior belly arises from the inner side of the lower border of the mandible, close to the symphysis, and passes downward and backward. The 2 bellies end in an intermediate tendon that perforates the stylohyoideus muscle and is held in connection with the side of the body and the greater cornu of the hyoid bone by a fibrous loop.

The stylohyoid muscle is a slender muscle lying in front of and above the posterior belly of the digastric muscle. It arises from the back and lateral surface of the styloid process, near the base; passing downward and forward, it is inserted into the body of the hyoid bone at its junction with the greater horn and just above the omohyoid. It is perforated, near its insertion, by the tendon of the digastric muscle.

The mylohyoid muscle is flat and triangular and is situated above the anterior belly of the digastric, and it forms, with its fellow of the opposite side, a muscular floor for the oral cavity. It arises from the whole length of the mylohyoid line of the mandible, extending from the symphysis in front to the last molar tooth behind. The posterior fibers pass medialward and slightly downward to be inserted into the body of the hyoid bone. The middle and anterior fibers are inserted into a median fibrous raphe extending from the symphysis menti to the hyoid bone, where they join at an angle with the fibers of the opposite muscle. This median raphe is sometimes wanting; the fibers of the 2 muscles are then continuous.

The geniohyoid muscle is a narrow muscle, situated above the medial border of the mylohyoideus. It arises from the inferior mental spine on the back of the symphysis menti and runs backward and slightly downward to be inserted into the anterior surface of the body of the hyoid bone; it lies in contact with its fellow of the opposite side.

The mylohyoid branch of the inferior alveolar nerve supplies the mylohyoid and anterior belly of the digastric muscle. The facial nerve supplies the stylohyoid and posterior belly of the digastric. C1 fibers that travel with the hypoglossal nerve supply the geniohyoid muscle.

Infrahyoid Muscles

The sternohyoid muscle is a thin, narrow muscle, which arises from the posterior surface of the medial end of the clavicle, posterior sternoclavicular ligament, and upper and posterior part of the manubrium sterni. Passing upward and medialward, it is inserted, by short, tendinous fibers, into the lower border of the body of the hyoid bone.

The infrahyoid muscles are supplied by branches from the first 3 cervical nerves via the ansa cervicalis. These muscles depress the larynx and hyoid bone, after they have been drawn up with the pharynx in the act of deglutition. The omohyoids not only depress the hyoid bone but also carry it backward and to one or the other side.

The sternothyroid muscle is shorter, wider, and deeper than the sternohyoid. It arises from the posterior surface of the manubrium sterni, below the fibers of the sternohyoid, and from the edge of the cartilage of the first rib. It is inserted into the oblique line on the lamina of the thyroid cartilage.

The thyrohyoid muscle is a small, quadrilateral muscle that arises from the oblique line on the lamina of the thyroid cartilage and is inserted into the lower border of the greater horn of the hyoid bone.

The omohyoid muscle consists of 2 fleshy bellies united by a central tendon. It arises from the upper border of the scapula. From this origin, the inferior belly forms a flat, narrow fasciculus, which inclines forward and slightly upward across the lower part of the neck, being bound down to the clavicle by a fibrous expansion; it then passes behind the sternocleidomastoid, becomes tendinous, and changes its direction, forming an obtuse angle.

The omohyoid muscle ends in the superior belly, which passes almost vertically upward, close to the lateral border of the sternohyoideus, to be inserted into the lower border of the body of the hyoid bone, lateral to the insertion of the sternohyoid. The central tendon of this muscle varies a great deal in length and form, and it is held in position by a process of the deep cervical fascia, which sheaths it, and extends downward to be attached to the clavicle and first rib; it is by this means that the angular form of the muscle is maintained.

Anterior Vertebral Muscles

The anterior vertebral muscles are the longus colli, longus capitis, rectus capitis anterior, and rectus capitis lateralis.

The longus colli muscle is situated on the anterior surface of the vertebral column, between the atlas and the third thoracic vertebra. It is broad in the middle, narrow and pointed at either end, and consists of 3 portions: superior oblique, an inferior oblique, and a vertical.

The superior oblique portion arises from the anterior tubercles of the transverse processes of the third, fourth, and fifth cervical vertebrae and, ascending obliquely with a medial inclination, is inserted by a narrow tendon into the tubercle on the anterior arch of the atlas. The inferior oblique portion, the smallest part of the muscle, arises from the front of the bodies of the first 2 or 3 thoracic vertebrae and, ascending obliquely in a lateral direction, is inserted into the anterior tubercles of the transverse processes of the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae The vertical portion arises , below, from the front of the bodies of the upper 3 thoracic and lower 3 cervical vertebrae and is inserted into the front of the bodies of the second, third, and fourth cervical vertebrae.

The longus capitis is broad and thick above, narrow below, and arises by 4 tendinous slips, from the anterior tubercles of the transverse processes of the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth cervical vertebrae, and ascends, converging toward its fellow of the opposite side, to be inserted into the inferior surface of the basilar part of the occipital bone.

The rectus capitis anterior is a short, flat muscle, situated immediately behind the upper part of the longus capitis. It arises from the anterior surface of the lateral mass of the atlas and from the root of its transverse process, and passing obliquely upward and medialward, it is inserted into the inferior surface of the basilar part of the occipital bone immediately in front of the foramen magnum.

The rectus capitis lateralis is a short, flat muscle, which arises from the upper surface of the transverse process of the atlas and is inserted into the undersurface of the jugular process of the occipital bone.

The rectus capitis anterior and the rectus capitis lateralis are supplied from the loop between the first and second cervical nerves; the longus capitis, by branches from the first, second, and third cervical; the longus colli, by branches from the second to the seventh cervical nerves.

The longus capitis and rectus capitis anterior are the direct antagonists of the muscles at the back of the neck, serving to restore the head to its natural position after it has been drawn backward. These muscles also flex the head, and from their obliquity, rotate it, so as to turn the face to one or the other side. The rectus lateralis, acting on one side, bends the head laterally. The longus colli flexes and slightly rotates the cervical portion of the vertebral column.

Lateral Vertebral Muscles

The lateral vertebral muscles are the scalenus anterior, scalenus medius, and scalenus posterior.

Scalenus anterior lies at the side of the neck, behind the sternocleidomastoid. It arises from the anterior tubercles of the transverse processes of the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth cervical vertebrae, and descending, almost vertically, is inserted by a narrow, flat tendon into the scalene tubercle on the inner border of the first rib and into the ridge on the upper surface of the rib in front of the subclavian groove.

Scalenus medius the largest and longest of the three scaleni, arises from the posterior tubercles of the transverse processes of the lower 6 cervical vertebrae, and descending along the side of the vertebral column, is inserted by a broad attachment into the upper surface of the first rib, between the tubercle and the subclavian groove.

Scalenus posterior, the smallest and most deeply seated of the 3 scaleni, arises, by 2 or 3 separate tendons, from the posterior tubercles of the transverse processes of the lower 2 or 3 cervical vertebrae and is inserted by a thin tendon into the outer surface of the second rib, behind the attachment of the serratus anterior. It is occasionally blended with the scalenus medius.

The scaleni are supplied by branches from the second to the seventh cervical nerves.

When the scaleni act from above, they elevate the first and second ribs, and are, therefore, inspiratory muscles. Acting from below, they bend the vertebral column to one or other side; if the muscles of both sides act, the vertebral column is slightly flexed.

Suboccipital Muscles

The suboccipital group comprises the rectus capitis posterior major, rectus capitis posterior minor, obliquus capitis inferior, and obliquus capitis superior.

Rectus capitis posterior major (rectus capitis posticus major) arises by a pointed tendon from the spinous process of the axis, and, becoming broader as it ascends, is inserted into the lateral part of the inferior nuchal line of the occipital bone and the surface of the bone immediately below the line. As the muscles of the 2 sides pass upward and lateralward, they leave between them a triangular space, in which the recti capitis posteriores minores are seen.

Rectus capitis posterior minor (rectus capitis posticus minor) arises by a narrow pointed tendon from the tubercle on the posterior arch of the atlas, and, widening as it ascends, is inserted into the medial part of the inferior nuchal line of the occipital bone and the surface between it and the foramen magnum.

Obliquus capitis inferior (obliquus inferior), the larger of the 2 oblique muscles, arises from the apex of the spinous process of the axis and passes lateralward and slightly upward to be inserted into the lower and back part of the transverse process of the atlas.

Obliquus capitis superior (obliquus superior), narrow below, wide and expanded above, arises by tendinous fibers from the upper surface of the transverse process of the atlas, joining with the insertion of the preceding. It passes upward and medialward and is inserted into the occipital bone, between the superior and inferior nuchal lines, lateral to the semispinalis capitis.

The deep muscles of the back and the suboccipital muscles are supplied by the posterior primary rami of the spinal nerves.

The 2 recti draw the head backward. The rectus capitis posterior major, owing to its obliquity, rotates the skull, with the atlas, around the odontoid process, turning the face to the same side. The obliquus capitis superior draws the head backward and to its own side. The obliquus inferior rotates the atlas, and with it the skull, around the odontoid process, turning the face to the same side.

Suboccipital Triangle

Between the obliqui and the rectus capitis posterior major is the suboccipital triangle. It is bounded, above and medially, by the rectus capitis posterior major; above and laterally by the obliquus capitis superior; and below and laterally by the obliquus capitis inferior. It is covered by a layer of dense fibro-fatty tissue, situated beneath the semispinalis capitis. The floor is formed by the posterior atlanto-occipital membrane and the posterior arch of the atlas. The vertebral artery and the first cervical or suboccipital nerve are in the groove on the upper surface of the posterior arch of the atlas.

What is the name of the frontal part of the neck?

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Neck Pain — Understanding Your Anatomy

The neck serves as a flexible connection between your head and the rest of your body and contains many important nerves and blood vessels. While the neck is connected to the spine, it is not as sheltered as the rest of the backbone. This means this slim structure is prone to problems that can compromise motion and lead to neck pain.

Understanding Neck Pain: An Anatomy Lesson

Your neck contains numerous vital structures, including:

  • Cervical spinal cord. The cervical portion of your spinal cord is located in your neck. Your spinal cord sends messages through nerves from your brain to your body, and from your body back to your brain. The spinal cord stretches all the way down the length of your back.
  • Vertebrae. The vertebrae are bones that encase and protect your spinal cord.
  • Vertebral disks. Intervertebral disks are located between each vertebra and help to absorb shock and allow your spine greater flexibility.
  • Muscles. Several different muscles in your neck support your skull and enable your neck to move.
  • Vertebral ligaments. Ligaments in your neck stabilize your vertebrae and help hold them in place.
  • Nerves. A network of nerves in your neck sends signals to your brain and body. When a vertebral disk places pressure on the nerves in your neck, you may experience neck pain. Many of the nerves in your neck stretch into your arms, which is why problems with the neck often lead to arm and shoulder symptoms, in addition to neck pain.
  • Blood vessels. Many of your body’s most important arteries and veins are located in your neck, including your carotid arteries and jugular veins. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body, and veins carry blood back to your heart and lungs.
  • Pharynx. The pharynx is a hollow tube that connects your nose and throat to your esophagus and trachea.
  • Larynx. Your larynx, or voice box, sits just below your pharynx. It contains your vocal cords, which give you your voice.
  • Trachea. Your trachea is the tube that allows air to flow between your mouth, nose, and lungs.
  • Esophagus. The esophagus provides a passageway for food and liquid to move from the mouth into the stomach.
  • Thyroid gland. The thyroid is an essential gland that is located in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that help regulate metabolism.
  • Parathyroid glands. The parathyroid glands are small glands adjacent to the thyroid gland. They release a critical hormone that helps control the amount of calcium in the blood.
  • Lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are located in many parts of your body, including the neck. They help to drain impurities out of the body and contain infection-fighting blood cells.

Neck pain generally arises from muscle strain. But since your neck is so complex, there can be other, more serious causes of neck pain. If you are having neck pain, it is important to see your doctor, especially if your neck pain is intense or persistent, or is accompanied by other worrisome symptoms such as fever, severe headache, or numbness or weakness in the arms or legs.

HEAD & NECK

  • Introduction to Head and Neck Cancer
  • Oral Cancers
    • Overview
    • Basics of Oral Cancer
      • Overview
      • Anatomy
    • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Buccal Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Lip Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visits
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Oromandibular Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Oral Salivary Gland Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treament
  • Additional Readings
  • Palatomaxillary Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Tongue Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Salivary Gland Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visits
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Throat Cancers
    • Overview
    • Basics of Throat Cancer
      • Overview
      • Anatomy
    • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Laryngopharyngeal Cancers
    • Overview
    • Hypopharyngeal Cancer
      • Overview
      • Anatomy
      • Causes
      • Signs and Symptoms
      • Doctor’s Visit
      • Diagnosis
      • Type of Cancer
      • Grade of the Tumor
      • Stage of the Cancer
      • Treatment Plan
      • Prognosis
      • After Treatment
      • Additional Readings
  • Cervical Esophageal Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
    • Causes
    • Signs and Symptoms
    • Doctor’s Visit
    • Diagnosis
    • Type of Cancer
    • Grade of the Tumor
    • Stage of the Cancer
    • Treatment Plan
    • Prognosis
    • After Treatment
    • Additional Readings
  • Laryngeal Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
    • Causes
    • Signs and Symptoms
    • Doctor’s Visit
    • Diagnosis
    • Type of Cancer
    • Grade of the Tumor
    • Stage of the Cancer
    • Treatment Plan
    • Prognosis
    • After Treatment
    • Additional Readings
  • Nasopharyngeal Cancers
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Oropharyngeal Cancers
    • Overview
    • Soft Palate Cancer
      • Overview
      • Anatomy
      • Causes
      • Signs and Symptoms
      • Doctor’s Visit
      • Diagnosis
      • Type of Cancer
      • Grade of the Tumor
      • Stage of the Cancer
      • Treatment Plan
      • Prognosis
      • After Treatment
      • Additional Readings
  • Tongue Base Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
    • Causes
    • Signs and Symptoms
    • Doctor’s Visit
    • Diagnosis
    • Type of Cancer
    • Grade of the Tumor
    • Stage of the Cancer
    • Treatment Plan
    • Prognosis
    • After Treatment
    • Additional Readings
  • Tonsil Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
    • Causes
    • Signs and Symptoms
    • Doctor’s Visit
    • Diagnosis
    • Type of Cancer
    • Grade of the Tumor
    • Stage of the Cancer
    • Treatment Plan
    • Prognosis
    • After Treatment
    • Additional Readings
  • Neck Cancers
    • Overview
    • Basics of Neck Cancer
      • Overview
      • Anatomy
    • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Metastatic Lymph Nodes
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Advanced Thyroid Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Nose and Sinus Cancers
    • Overview
    • Basics of Nose and Sinus Cancer
      • Overview
      • Anatomy
    • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Nasal Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Sinus Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Orbital Tumors
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Skin Cancer
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Causes
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Doctor’s Visit
  • Diagnosis
  • Type of Cancer
  • Grade of the Tumor
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • Distant Metastasis
    • Overview
    • Anatomy
  • Diagnosis
  • Stage of the Cancer
  • Treatment Plan
  • Prognosis
  • After Treatment
  • Additional Readings
  • In the neck region there are two organ systems that will be discussed as part of this book. These are the cervical lymph node groups and the external larynx, including the thyroid gland. The former are examined in relation to a number of ENT symptoms because they are the draining lymph node groups. In such cases, the history-taking will concentrate on the organ where the primary symptom is located. The external larynx and thyroid gland have a specific indication for examination and require a specific history-taking.

    Prediagnosis
    Congenital abnormalities,
    Obstruction,
    Inflammation,
    Tumours,
    Vascular problems,
    Trauma,
    Degenerative disorders involving the:
    – thyroid cartilage
    – thyroid gland
    – cervical lymph node groups
    Allergy

    During the history-taking consider the following:

    • What is the precise nature of the complaint?
    • How long has the feeling of having a lump in the throat been present?
    • Does the patient also have a sore throat?
    • Is he frequently tired?
    • Does he often feel cold or, on the contrary, hot?
    • Does he perspire a lot?
    • Does the patient suffer from constipation or, on the contrary, diarrhoea?
    • Has the patient gained any weight or lost weight?
    • Any change in appetite?
    • Has the patient, or someone he knows, noticed something about his eyes lately?
    • Does he suffer from double vision?
    • Does he feel that he is shaking?
    • Has the patient experienced any palpitations (fast heart rhythm)
    • Does the patient have any menstruation abnormalities (if applicable)?

    The Neck

    • The Basics
      • Terminology
        • Anatomical Position
        • Body Planes
        • Terms of Movement
        • Terms of Location
        • Embryology Terms
      • Joints
        • Classification
        • Synovial Joint
        • Joint Stability
      • Histology
        • Bone
        • Skeletal Muscle
        • Blood Vessels
        • Nerves
        • Lymphatics
        • Skin
      • Embryology
        • Weeks 1-3
        • Dermatomes
        • Myotomes
        • The Limbs
        • Head and Neck
        • Cardiovascular System
        • Respiratory System
        • Urinary System
        • Reproductive System
        • Central Nervous System
      • Imaging
        • X-Ray
        • CT
        • MRI
    • Head
      • Areas
        • Scalp
        • Pterygopalatine Fossa
        • Infratemporal Fossa
        • Cranial Fossae
      • Bones
        • Skull
        • Bony Orbit
        • Sphenoid Bone
        • Ethmoid Bone
        • Temporal Bone
        • Mandible
        • Nasal Skeleton
        • Cranial Foramina
      • Muscles
        • The Tongue
        • Facial Expression
        • Extraocular
        • Mastication
      • Nerves
        • Sympathetic Innervation
        • Parasympathetic Innervation
        • Ophthalmic Nerve
        • Mandibular Nerve
        • Maxillary Nerve
      • Organs
        • The Ear
        • The Eye
        • Nose and Sinuses
        • Salivary Glands
        • Oral Cavity
      • Joints
        • TMJ
      • Vessels
        • Arterial Supply
        • Venous Drainage
        • Lymphatics
      • Other
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        • Head and Neck
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    Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Head and Neck

    This material must not be used for commercial purposes, or in any hospital or medical facility. Failure to comply may result in legal action.

    Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 24, 2019.

    • Care Notes

    What is an MRI?

    • A magnetic resonance imaging scan is also called an MRI. An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to take pictures of the inside of your body. This test helps caregivers see normal and abnormal areas of the brain. An MRI can show how and where blood is flowing in your brain. It can also help caregivers see how your brain is working.

    • An MRI can see tissues, bones, blood vessels, and joints in your head, neck, and spine. Joints are where bones meet. An MRI also shows your inner ears, orbits (eye sockets), sinuses, thyroid gland, and mouth.

    Why do I need an MRI of the head and neck?

    You may need an MRI for any of the following reasons:

    • You are having symptoms including headaches, dizziness, or memory loss. An MRI may help caregivers learn what is causing your symptoms.
    • An MRI can guide or help caregivers plan procedures, such as brain surgery or a biopsy. This is when a sample of tissue is collected from a body area. Functional MRI, which maps out areas of the brain, may be done before brain surgery.
    • If you are being treated for a disease, an MRI may show how well your treatment is working. It can also check if a disease that you have already been treated for has returned.
    • If you have a disease or condition that needs treatment, the results of an MRI can help you and your caregiver decide on the best options for you.
    • You need a medical device placed in your brain. An MRI may also be used during the surgery to insert the device. Medical devices include those used to decrease the movement problems caused by Parkinson disease. Another device that may be placed is used to take away pain that can occur after having an arm or leg removed (phantom limb pain).
    • An MRI may be done after a procedure to look for bleeding and other problems.
    • An MRI can check for diseases, such as Alzheimer disease.

    What problems may be uncovered by an MRI of the head and neck?

    You may need an MRI to help diagnose the following medical conditions:

    • Blood vessel problems: An MRI can show widened, narrow, or blocked blood vessels in the head or neck. It may also show abnormal growth of blood vessels.
    • Growths, such as a mass or tumor: An MRI can show a growth in one or more areas of the head or neck. This may include a growth on the lip or tongue, or in the nose or sinuses (air cavities in the bones of the face). A growth may be found in or on the thyroid gland or the brain. The MRI may show a growth in the eye socket or the ear. An MRI can show if a growth has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Lymph nodes are small organs in the body that fight off the germs that may cause infection.
    • Infection: An MRI may show an infection in the inner ear, sinus, or eye socket.
    • Stroke or brain damage: A stroke can happen if a blood clot prevents blood from getting to certain parts of the brain. When blood cannot reach an area of the brain, tissue may die. Brain damage can happen after a stroke or following trauma (a head injury). An MRI of the head shows the presence and extent of damage to the brain. It may also help caregivers predict recovery in a person who has had brain damage or who is unconscious.
    • Dementia: Dementia is a disease that may occur with older age, causing problems with memory, speech, and movement. One type of dementia is called Alzheimer disease. An MRI can show areas of the brain that have signs of dementia.
    • Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a condition that causes seizures (body movements that cannot be controlled). An MRI shows areas of blood flow in the brain and may help caregivers plan epilepsy surgery, if it is needed.

    Why may I be unable to have an MRI of the head and neck?

    Before having an MRI, tell caregivers if any of the following are true for you:

    • You are pregnant: Your caregiver may not want you to have an MRI during your pregnancy, unless it is an emergency. Tell your caregiver if you know or think that you may be pregnant.
    • You are allergic to iodine or dye: Dye (contrast liquid) may be used during an MRI. If you know that you are allergic to iodine (found in shellfish, such as shrimp) or dye, tell your caregiver.
    • You have metal in your body: This includes an insulin pump or a prosthetic (man-made) body part. It also includes screws or plates that may have been placed during surgery. Medicine patches that are used to treat a heart condition or for birth control may contain metal. Tattoos or permanent cosmetics, such as eyeliner, may also contain metal. These items increase the risk of burns and injuries during the MRI. Tell caregivers if you have any of these in or on your body. Tell caregivers if you have done welding or have worked with or around metal in the past. Tell caregivers if you have had a metal object stuck in your eye in the past. Having worked with of been injured by metal in the past increases your risk of still having small pieces of metal in your body.
    • You have a medical device in your body that contains metal: These devices include pacemakers, defibrillators, aneurysm clips, heart valves, shunts, and certain stents. Cochlear (inner ear) implants and intrauterine devices (IUD) may also contain metal.
    • You have claustrophobia: Claustrophobia is a fear of small, closed spaces. If you have this fear, caregivers may offer you medicine to help you relax or go to sleep during the MRI. Ask your caregiver if you may have a friend or family member in the room with you during the MRI. Ask caregivers what else can be done so that you can have an MRI.
    • You have trouble lying flat or still: You may have a medical condition that makes it very hard to lie flat or without moving for a period of time. If you cannot lie flat, or you have trouble lying still, tell your caregiver.

    What will happen during an MRI of the head and neck?

    • You will be asked to remove any jewelry, and all removable metal objects. If you have a medical device, it may need to be turned off before your MRI. You will lie down on a table with your arms at your sides or over your head. Your caregiver may put padding and cushions around and under you. You may be given earplugs or headphones to decrease the noise of the MRI machine. The table will slide into the round tube in the center of the machine. You will hear loud banging, tapping, or chirping noises as the machine takes pictures of your head and neck. The noise is caused by the magnets in the machine moving during the test. You may be asked questions or to do certain actions during the test. These tasks can help caregivers see your brain at work. Actions may include moving your fingers in a certain order or making a fist. You may also be asked to extend your neck or open your mouth.

    • You will need to hold very still during the test so the pictures are clear. If you suddenly feel odd or feel a warm or hot area on your body during the MRI, tell caregivers immediately. You may need dye to help your body parts show up better in the pictures. The dye is given to you through an intravenous (IV) tube placed in one of your veins. Other procedures, such as taking a biopsy (sample) of tissue, may be done during the MRI. Ask your caregiver for more information if you need another procedure done during your MRI.

    What are the risks of having an MRI?

    • If dye is used during the MRI, it may damage your kidneys. This risk is higher if you have diabetes or kidney disease. If you have metal in or on your body during the MRI, the metal may heat to a dangerous level and cause a burn. If you had surgery to have a coil, stent, or filter placed in your body recently, it may move out of place during the MRI. An MRI can make medical devices work wrong or stop working. You may have short-term hearing loss after an MRI.
    • If you do not have an MRI, a medical problem may not be found. If a medical problem is not found and treated, it may get worse. Without an MRI, your caregiver may not find a disease in the early stages when it may be treated more easily. If you have symptoms, such as headaches or dizziness, they may get worse. If you have a lump, it may grow bigger. Having an MRI before or during surgery helps caregivers plan for and complete the surgery. If you are being treated for a disease and do not have an MRI, caregivers may not know if the treatment is working. Your condition may get worse, and you may die. Talk to your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about having an MRI of the head and neck.

    When should I call my caregiver?

    Call your caregiver if:

    • You cannot make it to your MRI.
    • You think you may be pregnant.

    Care Agreement

    You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

    Further information

    Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

    Medical Disclaimer

    Learn more about Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Head and Neck

    IBM Watson Micromedex

    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Abdomen and Pelvis

    Neck

    The neck is the start of the spinal column and spinal cord. The spinal column contains about two dozen inter-connected, oddly shaped, bony segments, called vertebrae. The neck contains seven of these, known as the cervical vertebrae. They are the smallest and uppermost vertebrae in the body.

    The spinal column extends from the base of the skull to the pelvis. It protects and houses the spinal cord — the long bundle of nervous tissue that transmits neural signals to the brain and rest of body. It runs from the back of the head to the small of the back.

    The laryngeal prominence, more commonly known as the Adam’s apple, is a noticeable external neck feature. It is more prominent in men than in women. The thyroid cartilage that makes up the body of the larynx, or voice box, creates this prominence, and it develops during puberty. The Adam’s apple is more prominent in men because the cartilage meets at a 90-degree angle; in women, the angle is typically 120-degrees, so the bulge is less noticeable.

    Speech is made possible by critical structures within the neck. The larynx houses the vocal cords, or vocal folds. Sound is generated when these folds come together to produce vibrations. Its movement also manipulates pitch and volume.

    The larynx is located where the pharynx, the back of the mouth and nasal cavity, divides into the trachea (the tube that carries air to the lungs) and the esophagus (the tube that carries food to the stomach). That branch occurs near the base of the neck near the collarbones.

    Some health problems that can affect the neck include:

    • Neck spasm
    • Whiplash
    • Herniated disc
    • Muscle sprain
    • Laryngitis
    • Airway obstruction
    • Vocal cord polyps
    • Throat cancer
    • Mumps
    • Mononucleosis

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