Posterior triangle of the neck

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 02 Aug 2021

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 that crosses the triangle divides it into an 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 sub grouped as level 5a (above) or level 5b (below). 

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: surgical triangles of the neck (Gray's illustration)
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.