open access

Vol 65, No 4 (2006)
ORIGINAL ARTICLES
Published online: 2006-09-18
Submitted: 2012-02-06
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Identification of greater occipital nerve landmarks for the treatment of occipital neuralgia

Loukas M, El-Sedfy A, Tubbs RS, Louis RG Jr., Wartmann ChT, Curry B, Jordan R
Folia Morphol 2006;65(4):337-342.

open access

Vol 65, No 4 (2006)
ORIGINAL ARTICLES
Published online: 2006-09-18
Submitted: 2012-02-06

Abstract

Important structures involved in the pathogenesis of occipital headache include the aponeurotic attachments of the trapezius and semispinalis capitis muscles to the occipital bone. The greater occipital nerve (GON) can become entrapped as it passes through these aponeuroses, causing symptoms of occipital neuralgia. The aim of this study was to identify topographic landmarks for accurate identification of GON, which might facilitate its anaesthetic blockade. The course and distribution of GON and its relation to the aponeuroses of the trapezius and semispinalis capitis were examined in 100 formalin-fixed adult cadavers. In addition, the relative position of the nerve on a horizontal line between the external occipital protuberance and the mastoid process, as well as between the mastoid processes was measured. The greater occipital nerve was found bilaterally in all specimens. It was located at a mean distance of 3.8 cm (range 1.5–7.5 cm) lateral to a vertical line through the external occipital protuberance and the spinous processes of the cervical vertebrae 2–7. It was also located approximately 41% of the distance along the intermastoid line (medial to a mastoid process) and 22% of the distance between the external occipital protuberance and the mastoid process. The location of GON for anaesthesia or any other neurosurgical procedure has been established as one thumb’s breadth lateral to the external occipital protuberance (2 cm laterally) and approximately at the base of the thumb nail (2 cm inferior). This is the first study proposing the use of landmarks in relation to anthropometric measurements. On the basis of these observations we propose a target zone for local anaesthetic injection that is based on easily identifiable landmarks and suggest that injection at this target point could be of benefit in the relief of occipital neuralgia.

Abstract

Important structures involved in the pathogenesis of occipital headache include the aponeurotic attachments of the trapezius and semispinalis capitis muscles to the occipital bone. The greater occipital nerve (GON) can become entrapped as it passes through these aponeuroses, causing symptoms of occipital neuralgia. The aim of this study was to identify topographic landmarks for accurate identification of GON, which might facilitate its anaesthetic blockade. The course and distribution of GON and its relation to the aponeuroses of the trapezius and semispinalis capitis were examined in 100 formalin-fixed adult cadavers. In addition, the relative position of the nerve on a horizontal line between the external occipital protuberance and the mastoid process, as well as between the mastoid processes was measured. The greater occipital nerve was found bilaterally in all specimens. It was located at a mean distance of 3.8 cm (range 1.5–7.5 cm) lateral to a vertical line through the external occipital protuberance and the spinous processes of the cervical vertebrae 2–7. It was also located approximately 41% of the distance along the intermastoid line (medial to a mastoid process) and 22% of the distance between the external occipital protuberance and the mastoid process. The location of GON for anaesthesia or any other neurosurgical procedure has been established as one thumb’s breadth lateral to the external occipital protuberance (2 cm laterally) and approximately at the base of the thumb nail (2 cm inferior). This is the first study proposing the use of landmarks in relation to anthropometric measurements. On the basis of these observations we propose a target zone for local anaesthetic injection that is based on easily identifiable landmarks and suggest that injection at this target point could be of benefit in the relief of occipital neuralgia.
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Keywords

greater occipital nerve; anatomy; occipital neuralgia; nerve block; anaesthesia

About this article
Title

Identification of greater occipital nerve landmarks for the treatment of occipital neuralgia

Journal

Folia Morphologica

Issue

Vol 65, No 4 (2006)

Pages

337-342

Published online

2006-09-18

Bibliographic record

Folia Morphol 2006;65(4):337-342.

Keywords

greater occipital nerve
anatomy
occipital neuralgia
nerve block
anaesthesia

Authors

Loukas M
El-Sedfy A
Tubbs RS
Louis RG Jr.
Wartmann ChT
Curry B
Jordan R

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