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The purpose of our study was to demonstrate that ultrasonography may allow a precise assessment of the course and relationships of the spinal accessory nerve (SAN). This study, initially undertaken in 7 cadavers, was followed by high-resolution ultrasonographic study in 15 volunteers (30 nerves) by two radiologists in consensus. The location, course and relations to the adjacent anatomic structures of the SAN were analyzed. The precise course of the SAN between the lateroposterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle and the anterior border of the trapezius muscle could be identified by high-resolution ultrasonography. In contrast, clinical bone landmarks were not found helpful for the identification of the nerve. The SAN can be clearly depicted by means of ultrasonography. Knowledge of the nerve's precise location, which may evidence individual variations, may have useful clinical applications. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


Clarissa Canella, Xavier Demondion, Evandro Abreu, Edson Marchiori, Hervé Cotten, Anne Cotten. Anatomical study of spinal accessory nerve using ultrasonography. European journal of radiology. 2013 Jan;82(1):56-61

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PMID: 21596503

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