German Contact Help Login Register

Sternocleidomastoid Muscle

Contents

Anatomy and supply

The sternocleidomastoid muscle is a two-headed neck muscle. It is innervated by the accessory nerve (cranial nerve XI) and direct branches of the cervical plexus (C1-C2). The sternal head originates from the manubrium sterni, the clavicular head from the middle part of the clavicle. The insertion is the mastoid process of the temporal bone and the superior nuchal line of the occipital bone.

The muscle lies very superficially so that it is both easily visible and palpable. The carotid pulse may be felt in the middle third of the front edge. Under the sternocleidomastoid region runs a neurovascular bundle containing the common carotid artery (medial), the internal jugular vein (lateral), the vagus nerve (dorsal) and the cervical ansa. When putting a central venous catheter (CVC) the medial edge of the sternocleidomastoid muscle serves as a lead structure. Sensory branches of the cervical plexus merge dorsally to the muscle at the Erb’s point (punctum nervosum) which can be used as a place of puncture for local anesthesia.

Sternocleidomastoid muscle
Recommended video: Sternocleidomastoid muscle
Origins, insertions, innervations and functions of the sternocleidomastoid muscle.

Function

A unilateral contraction of the sternocleidomastoid muscle flexes the cervical vertebral column to the same side (lateral flexion) and rotates the head to the opposite side. A bilateral innervation leads to an elevation of the head (dorsal extension). In addition it supports the inspiration providing that the head stands still (inspiratory breathing muscle).

Pathology

During pathological changes of the sternocleidomastoid the clinical picture of the wryneck occurs (bending of the head to the affected muscle and rotation to the healthy side). A classic example for this condition is the muscular torticollis, a tonic spasm of the sternocleidomastoid. People with this disorder show difficulties swallowing, an extreme immobility of their throat, facial asymmetries and scoliosis. Approximately 0.5% of all newborn suffer under muscular torticollis however the etiology remains unclear.

Get me the rest of this article for free
Create your account and you’ll be able to see the rest of this article, plus videos and a quiz to help you memorize the information, all for free. You’ll also get access to articles, videos, and quizzes about dozens of other anatomy systems.
Create your free account ➞
Show references

References:

  • D. Drenckhahn/J. Waschke: Taschenbuch Anatomie, 1.Auflage, Urban & Fischer Verlag/Elsevier (2008), S.189
  • M. Schünke/E. Schulte/U. Schumacher: Prometheus – LernAtlas der Anatomie – Allgemeine Anatomie und Bewegungssystem, 2.Auflage, Thieme Verlag (2007), S.292-293
  • W. Graumann/D. Sasse: CompactLehrbuch der gesamten Anatomie - Bd.2 - Bewegungsapparat, 1.Auflage, Schattauer Verlag (2003) S.462-463
  • F. Hefti: Kinderorthopädie in der Praxis, 2.Auflage, Springer Verlag (2006), S.117-120

Author & Layout:

  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy
  • Christopher A. Becker

Illustrators:

  • sternocleidomastoid muscle - Yousun Koh 
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

Continue your learning

Article (You are here)
Other articles
Well done!
Create your free account.
Start learning anatomy in less than 60 seconds.