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Neck Anatomy

Overview

The neck is the part of the body that separates the head from the torso. The Latin-derived term cervical means “of the neck.” The neck supports the weight of the head and is highly flexible, allowing the head to turn and flex in different directions.

The midline in front of the neck has a prominence of the thyroid cartilage termed the laryngeal prominence, or the so-called “Adam’s apple.”

Between the Adam’s apple and the chin, the hyoid bone can be felt; below the thyroid cartilage, a further ring that can be felt in the midline is the cricoid cartilage. Between the cricoid cartilage and the suprasternal notch, the trachea and isthmus of the thyroid gland can be felt.

The quadrangular area is on the side of the neck and is bounded superiorly by the lower border of the body of the mandible and the mastoid process, inferiorly by the clavicle, anteriorly by a midline in front of the neck, and posteriorly by the trapezius muscle.

The cervical spine is made of 7 cervical vertebrae deemed C1 to C7. The cervical portion of the spine has a gentle forward curve called the cervical lordosis. Certain cervical vertebrae have atypical features and differ from the general form of a typical vertebra.

The main arteries in the neck are the common carotids, and the main veins of the neck that return the blood from the head and face are the external and internal jugular veins.

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