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  • Indications: carotid endarterectomy, superficial neck surgery
  • Transducer position: transverse over the midpoint of the sternocleidomastoid muscle (posterior border)
  • Goal: local anesthetic spread around the superficial cervical plexus or deep to the sternocleidomastoid muscle
  • Local anesthetic: 10–15 mL

Figure 28-1.
Graphic Jump Location

Needle and transducer position to block the superficial cervical plexus using a transverse view.


The goal of the ultrasound-guided technique of superficial cervical plexus block is to deposit local anesthetic in the vicinity of the sensory branches of the nerve roots C2, C3, and C4. Advantages over the landmark-based technique include the ability to ensure the spread of local anesthetic in the correct plane and therefore increase the success rate and avoid too deep needle insertion and/or inadvertent puncture of neighboring structures. Both in-plane and out-of-plane approaches can be used. The experience with ultrasound-guided deep cervical plexus is still in its infancy and not described here.


The sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM) forms a "roof" over the nerves of the superficial cervical plexus (C2-4). The roots combine to form the four terminal branches (lesser occipital, greater auricular, transverse cervical, and supraclavicular nerves) and emerge from behind the posterior border of the SCM (Figure 28-2). The plexus can be visualized as a small collection of hypoechoic nodules (honeycomb appearance or hypo-echoic [dark] oval structures) immediately deep or lateral to the posterior border of the SCM (Figure 28-3), but this is not always apparent. Occasionally, the greater auricular nerve is visualized (Figure 28-4) on the superficial surface of the SCM muscle as a small, round hypoechoic structure. The SCM is separated from the brachial plexus and the scalene muscles by the prevertebral fascia, which can be seen as a hyperechoic linear structure. The superficial cervical plexus lies posterior to the SCM muscle, and immediately underneath the prevertebral fascia overlying the interscalene groove. (Figure 28-3).

Figure 28-2.
Graphic Jump Location

Anatomy of the superficial cervical plexus. Image not available. sternocleidomastoid muscle. Image not available. mastoid process. Image not available. clavicle. Image not available. external jugular vein. Superficial cervical plexus is seen emerging behind the posterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle at the intersection of the muscle with the external jugular vein. Image not available. Greater auricular nerve.

Figure 28-3.
Graphic Jump Location

Superficial cervical plexus-transverse view.

Figure 28-4.
Graphic Jump Location

Branches of the superficial cervical plexus (CP) emerging behind the prevertebral fascia that covers the middle (MSM) and anterior (ASM) scalene muscles, and posterior to the sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM). White arrows, Prevertebral Fascia; CA, carotid artery; PhN, phrenic nerve.


The superficial cervical plexus block results in anesthesia of the skin of the anterolateral neck and the anteauricular and retroauricular areas, as well as the skin ...

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