The head and neck anatomy describes the structures that comprise the head and neck regions of the body. It consists of the muscles, bones, blood vessels, glands, brain, spinal cord as well as other organs located in the head and neck area. These areas are the most common area of study of neurologists, otorhinolaryngologist, ophthalmologists, dentists, surgeons as well as endocrinologists.
Bones on the Head and Neck Region
One of the most important areas in the head and neck is the skeletal system that helps protect and contain the important organs in the area. The head is located on the superior portion of the vertebral column with the skull attached on the first cervical vertebrae. The head and neck skeletal system comprise the upper portion of the axial skeleton. These bones include the skull, cervical spine, hyoid bone and the auditory ossicles.
The skull consists of 8 bones fused together to form the strong cranium protecting the brain. These include 2 frontal bones (bones forming the forehead), 2 parietal bones (bones forming the roof of the head), 2 temporal bones (bones forming the sides of the ehad) and 2 occipital bones (bones forming the back of the skull). These bones are fused together to form the strong skull. The skull also consists of the facial bones including the maxilla, zygomatic, mandible, palatine, lacrimal, nasal, inferior conchae and vomer. One of the important joints in the skull is the temporomandibular joint, which connects the mandible to the temporal region of the cranium. It allows for the opening and closing of the mouth, clenching of the teeth and grinding of the teeth sideways.
The base of the skull forms the occipital bone, which connects with the foramen magnum to continuously articulate with the cervical spine. The foramen magnum allows the continuity of the spinal cord from the base of the brain to the rest of the spine. The neck joint allows the flexion, extension and rotation, but not any other types of movement.
Muscles on the Head and Neck Region
Aside from the bones are the muscles that allow movement in the head and neck. These muscles usually comprise those for mastication or chewing, facial expressions, tongue movement, neck movement and the like.
Blood Supply to the Head and Neck
The head and neck receives blood supply from the aortic arch via the subclavian artery, left common carotid artery and the brachiocephalic artery and empties unoxygenated blood through the jugular vein and subclavian vein to the superior vena cava.
The brain also has a special mechanism in which the capillaries have a semi-permeable capacity to control substances from leaking from the blood stream into the brain itself. This is called as the Blood-Brain Barrier. Inside the cranium are also sinuses that allow the flowing of the cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to the spinal cord.
The head contains various organs and glands including the skull, face, scalp, cranial fossae, cranial meninges, CSF, mouth, palate, tongue, parotid glands, submandibular region, nasal cavity, sinuses, orbit and the brain.
The neck also contains various organs including the cervical vertebrae, the cervical level of the spinal column, the thyroid gland, the pharynx, larynx, muscles and blood vessels that supply the head.
The head and neck may be a small region in the body, but these regions contain a lot of important organs and glands and are one of the most delicate regions in the human anatomy.