Transverse cervical nerve

The transverse cervical nerve, also known as the superficial cervical nerve, cutaneous cervical nerve or anterior cutaneous cervical nerve of the neck, is a cutaneous branch of the cervical plexus that innervates the skin covering the anterior cervical region.

Gross anatomy

Origin

The transverse cervical nerve arises from the ventral rami of C2 and C3 spinal nerves.

Course

The transverse cervical nerve emerges along the posterior aspect of the sternocleidomastoid muscle at the punctum nervosum (Erb’s point) inferior to the greater auricular nerve and passes anteriorly and horizontally along the sternocleidomastoid muscle. The transverse cervical nerve then pierces the deep cervical fascia and passes underneath the platysma muscle where it branches into terminal superior and inferior branches.

Branches and supply
  • the superior (or ascending) branches of the transverse cervical nerve proceed to the submaxillary region and eventually form a plexus with the cervical branch of the facial nerve deep to the platysma muscle. Remaining superior branches pierce the platysma muscle and are distributed to the skin along the upper and anterior surface of the neck
  • the inferior (or descending) branches of the transverse cervical nerve pierce the platysma muscle and are distributed to the skin over the anterior and lateral aspects of the neck as inferior as the sternum
Relations

As it passes anteriorly across the sternocleidomastoid muscle the transverse cervical nerve passes deep to the external jugular vein.

Variant anatomy

The branching pattern of the transverse cervical nerve has been shown to be highly variable in cadaveric studies. 


Head and neck anatomy
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Article Information

rID: 38009
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Superficial cervical nerve
  • Cutaneous cervical nerve
  • Anterior cutaneous cervical nerve

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Cases and Figures

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    Figure 1: transverse cervical nerve
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    Figure 2: cervical plexus diagram
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