A modified dissection method to preserve neck structures

Mark H. Hankin, Jeremy L. Stoller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The neck is not only one of the more challenging anatomical regions to dissect but also has important application to clinical conditions, diseases, and procedures. In this study, we describe two simple modifications for dissection of the neck that (1) aid in the identification and preservation of the cutaneous branches of the cervical plexus and the accessory nerve, and (2) provide wide exposure of the root of the neck. The cutaneous branches of the cervical plexus can be identified with relative ease at the nerve point of the neck, where they are largest. To accomplish this, the skin and platysma are reflected beginning from the anterior border of trapezius and proceeding anteriorly to the midline of the neck, rather than the conventional approach of reflecting the skin from the anterior midline. The accessory nerve is identified by its relationship to the nerve point and its course to the trapezius muscle. To achieve wide exposure of the root of the neck and its contents, the acromioclavicular and sternoclavicular joints are disarticulated, and then the clavicle removed completely, rather than the more common approach of removing only the middle section of the clavicle. These modified procedures can be readily performed by first-year medical students and integrate well with methods described in widely used anatomy dissection manuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-192
Number of pages7
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anatomy dissection
  • Central venous catheterization
  • Cutaneous nerves
  • Gross anatomy
  • Neck dissection
  • Subclavian vein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Embryology


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