Deep cervical fascia

The deep cervical fascia consists of 3 separate but related fascial layers that encircle structures in the neck and allow anatomic compartmentalisation. These layers cannot be visualized directly by cross sectional imaging. All 3 layers meet to form the carotid sheath. From superficial to deep, the 3 layers are:

1. Investing layer of the deep cervical fascia is the most superficial layer.

  • superior attachments
    • superior nuchal line
    • mastoid processes
    • zygomatic arches
    • inferior border of the mandible
    • hyoid bone
    • spinous processes of C1-C7
  • inferior attachments
  • contents
    • everything in the neck apart from the skin, subcutaneous fat, some subcutaneous vessels and sensory nerves
  • it splits to enclose both the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and trapezius muscles
    • as it splits to enclose the sternal head on SCM, the anterior layer and posterior layer attach to the anterior and posterior cortices of the manubrium respectively, forming the suprasternal space
  • it also splits to enclose the submandibular and parotid salivary glands (separately), forming their fibrous capsules
    • fascia coming off the posterior margin of the deep lobe of the parotid gland condenses forming the stylomandibular ligament

2. Pretracheal layer of the deep cervical fascia is the intermediate layer.

3. Prevertebral layer of the deep cervical fascia is the most deep layer.

Clinical importance

The fascial layers allow surgical cleavage planes and is vitally important in limiting the spread of disease (mainly infection and malignancy). However due to the continuation of the pretracheal and prevertebral layers into the chest, disease can spread into the mediastinum.

All 3 layers converge to form the carotid sheath.

See also

Deep spaces of the head and neck

Anatomy: Head and neck
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Article information

rID: 41029
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • investing layer of deep cervical fascia
  • pretracheal layer of deep cervical fascia
  • prevertebral layer of deep cervical fascia

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