Journal of Anatomy and Physiological Studies


Bilateral Variation of the Suboccipital Region Musculature

Author(s): AR Dickerson, CL Fisher PhD

Dissection of the posterior cervical and suboccipital regions of an embalmed 81-year-old male cadaver revealed bilateral variations in the muscular anatomy, including two accessory muscles lying deep to the semispinalis capitis on each side, as well as a bilateral doubling of the rectus capitis posterior major muscle. These two sets of anatomical variations have little to no previous documentation in the literature. The accessory muscle bands were observed to have unique relationships with the greater occipital nerve on each side. This case report describes the findings in detail and examines their precedent in the literature. The suboccipital region has been implicated in the etiology of cervicogenic pain, headaches, and occipital neuralgia. Variations in the muscular anatomy have the potential to create structural interactions with vascular and neurologic structures in the area. Anatomic variations like those reported here should be considered in the diagnosis and treatment of pain and other conditions of the suboccipital region.

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