Scalp

The scalp is the skin and subcutaneous tissue covering the neurocranium. It is composed of five layers and has a rich vascular supply which explains why it bleeds profusely and heals well.

The scalp is composed of five layers which are easily remembered with this mnemonic. From external to internal the layers are:

  1. skin
    • usually covered in hair
    • thicker over the occiput
    • rich arterial supply and venolymphatic drainage
  2. connective tissue
    • ​thick layer which has a rich vascular supply
    • contains numerous cutaneous nerves
  3. galeal aponeurosis (also known as the Galea aponeurotica or epicranial aponeurosis)
    • strong aponeurosis that allows attachment for muscles of the scalp (occipitofrontalis, temporoparietalis and superior auricular muscles), all innervated by the facial nerve
  4. loose areolar tissue:
    • a sponge-like layer of areolar tissue which allows the free movement of the first three layers over the underlying pericranium and skull
    • being so loose it is a potential space for collections and haematomas
  5. pericranium:
    • dense layer of fibrous connective tissue that is the external periosteum of the neurocranium (firmly attached)
    • extends into the cranial sutures

Numerous arteries supply the scalp with corresponding veins, contributing to  rich vascular supply. The arteries arise from both the internal and external carotid circulations:

Like the face, the scalp does not have lymph nodes. Lymph drains via small lympatic channels to the submandibular, parotid, mastoid and occipital nodes. These form a collar of nodes at the junction of the head and neck.

Numerous cutaneous nerves supply sensation to the scalp depend on the location:

The muscles of the scalp (see above) are considered muscles of facial expression and therefore all innervated by the facial nerve.

Head and neck anatomy
Share article

Article information

rID: 52595
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Occipitofrontalis
  • Temporoparietalis
  • Superior auricular muscle

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Figure 1: vascular supply of the face and scalp
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.
    Loadinganimation

    Alert accept

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

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.