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Transverse cervical nerve

Recommended video: Cervical plexus [11:51]
Structure of the cervical plexus, including the cutaneous and muscular branches.

The transverse cervical nerve, also called the cervical cutaneous nerve, is a branch of the cervical plexus (C1-C4). It is formed from the anterior rami of spinal nerves C2 and C3. It emerges from the posterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle and runs anteriorly into the anterior triangle of the neck.

The transverse cervical nerve carries solely sensory fibers. Its main function is to provide sensory innervation to the skin overlying the anterolateral aspect of the neck.

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the transverse cervical nerve.

Key facts about the transverse cervical nerve
Origin Cervical plexus: Anterior rami of C2-C3
Branches Ascending and descending branches
Supply Skin of the anterolateral cervical region
  1. Origin, course and innervation
  2. Sources
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Origin, course and innervation

The transverse cervical nerve arises as a branch of the cervical plexus from the spinal nerves C2 and C3. It emerges in the neck, around the midpart of the posterior border of sternocleidomastoid muscle, inferior to the great auricular nerve. From here, the nerve curves around the belly of the sternocleidomastoid muscle and runs horizontally toward the anterior border of the muscle, deep to the external jugular vein. The nerve then pierces the deep cervical fascia and divides into anterior and posterior branches.

The ascending branches give off some fibers that form a plexus with the cervical branch of the facial nerve in the submandibular region of the neck. Other fibers from the ascending branches pierce the platysma to supply the skin of the upper anterior aspect of the neck. The descending branches of the transverse cervical nerve also pierce the platysma to become superficial and supply the skin of the lower anterolateral neck.

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Learn more about the transverse cervical nerve and other branches of the cervical plexus with this study unit!

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