Posterior triangle of the neck

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 21 Apr 2023

The posterior triangle of the neck forms the posterior compartment of the neck and is separated from the anterior triangle by the sternocleidomastoid muscle. The triangles of the neck are surgically focused, first described from early dissection-based anatomical studies which predated cross-sectional anatomical description based on imaging (see deep spaces of the neck).


The inferior belly of the omohyoid muscle that crosses the triangle divides it into inferior supraclavicular and superior occipital triangles


The posterior triangle contains level 5 lymph node chains. These include spinal accessory and transverse cervical nodes. Depending on the location of the nodes above or below the accessory nerve, they are subgrouped as level 5a (above) or level 5b (below).

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