Anatomy Journal of Africa

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A cadaveric study: the morphometric differences in the levator scapulae muscle

Jan H.T. Smit, Matthew R.H. Todd


Although the levator scapulae are surrounded in the deep cervical fascia, it can be separated into a number of muscle slips at the proximal attachment. Originally the muscle was described as having 3 muscle slips at its origin. More recent texts have now adopted 4 slips of origin. Each slip coming from a different cervical vertebra. Levator scapulae is important with myofascial pain syndrome which is one of the leading causes of neck and shoulder pain. Surgically it can also be used to overcome trapezius paralysis. Anatomical variations of the levator scapulae are important and therefore clinically relevant. In this dissection study, we have investigated the morphometric differences in 46 levator scapulae muscles from 23 cadavers. Measurements of the proximal- and distal attachments and the total length of the muscles were taken. Between 3 and 6 muscle slips were reported at the proximal attachment. Differences were also observed between sides. The first report of a levator scapula muscle with 6 muscle slips at the proximal attachment, is described in this study.

Keywords: Origin (proximal attachment); insertion (distal attachment); muscle slips

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