The knowledge of the exact anatomy of the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle and its nerve and blood supply must be considered a basic prerequisite for its use as a pedicle muscle flap.
To give an exact description of the courses and variability of all vessels supplying the SCM muscle.
Anatomic analysis of all arteries supplying the SCM muscle.
The blood supply of the SCM muscle was studied by dissecting bilaterally the anterior regions of the neck of 31 perfusion-fixed human cadavers of both sexes aged 50 to 94 years (mean, 78 years).
The blood supply to the SCM muscle can be divided into 3 parts: upper, middle, and lower. The upper third of the SCM muscle was found to be constantly supplied by branches of the occipital artery. According to their courses, these branches are categorized into types 1, 2a, 2b, and 3. The middle third of the SCM muscle receives its blood supply from a branch of the superior thyroid artery (42%), the external carotid artery (23%), or branches of both (27%). In most cases, the lower third of the muscle was supplied by a branch arising from the suprascapular artery (>80%), which has not been described until now.
In contrast to available data, the arterial blood supply of the lower third of the SCM muscle is constantly provided by a branch of the suprascapular artery. Since the SCM muscle flap is used in reconstructive surgery of the neck, the exact knowledge of its blood supply may help to minimize the risk of flap necrosis after surgical procedures.