The neck provides a powerful, flexible union between the head and the trunk, allowing controlled movement and a wide visual field. The superficial cervical muscles are summarised in table 3 and figure 46, and the cervical spine and deep muscles are considered with the back (see – Back).

It gives passage to the airway (see – Respiratory system) and digestive tract (page 285), and the great vessels of the head and brain (see – Unilateral or bilateral carotid compression), and contains a prominent cervical lymphatic plexus (see – Cervical Nodes). This section considers the examination of the thyroid gland and the cervical incisions that provide access to many of the above contents.

Figure 46
Anatomy of the neck.

1. Hyoid bone
2. Thyrohyoid
3. Thyroid cartilage 4. Sternohyoid
5. Thyroid gland
6. Cricoid cartilage
7. Isthmus of thyroid
8. Omohyoid
9. Sternomastoid, clavicular head
11. Tracheal ring
12. Sternomastoid, sternal head

Table 3 Muscles of the anterolateral aspect of the neck