Articles Medicine

Topographic Surface Anatomy

Topographic Surface Anatomy


At the end of your study, you should be able to:

  • Identify the key landmarks in the midline of the neck and their significance
  • State the structures that are situated at the level of C6
  • Outline the boundaries of the triangles of the neck
  • Describe the landmarks for palpation of the main arteries, which can be palpated in the face and neck
  • Identify prominent features of the face
Topographic Surface Anatomy

Topographic Surface Anatomy


High-Yield Facts

Clinical Points


  • Transverse incision through skin of neck and anterior wall of trachea
  • Method for achieving a definitive airway
  • Transverse incision made through skin, at midpoint between suprasternal notch and thyroid cartilage
  • Platysma and pretracheal fascia divided
  • Strap muscles retracted
  • Thyroid isthmus divided or retracted
  • Opening made between first and second tracheal rings or through second through fourth tracheal rings
  • Tracheostomy tube inserted
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Clinical Points

Needle Cricothyrotomy

  • Done in extreme emergency
  • Performed if proximal airway is obstructed, to temporarily oxygenate the patient
  • Large-bore needle inserted into the cricothyroid membrane and connected to an oxygen supply
Clinical Points

Central venous line

  • Large veins such as the subclavian have relatively constant relationships to easily identifiable anatomic landmarks
  • Placement of large-bore venous catheter in an emergent situation to deliver high flow of fluid or blood products
  • Used for administration of chemotherapeutic agents, hyperalimentation fluids, and so on
  • Used for assessing right heart (venous) pressures
  • Vein located in an area bounded by the sternal and clavicular attachments of sternocleidomastoid and the clavicle-just deep to middle third of clavicle
  • Subclavian vein is inferior and anterior to subclavian artery and separated from it by anterior scalene muscle