Ansa cervicalis as a variant of spinal accessory nerve plexus: A case report

Amir Afshin Khaki, Ghaffar Shokouhi, Mohammadali Mohajel Shoja, Ramin Mostofi Zadeh Farahani, Sina Zarrintan, Arash Khaki, Hasan Montazam, Asghar Tanoomand, M. Shane Tubbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The ansa cervicalis is a neural loop in the neck formed by the union of two main nerve roots, namely superior and inferior roots, derived from ventral rami of the cervical nerves. With the expanding use of the ansa cervicalis for reinnervation procedures and the fact that it is located in the vicinity of major nerves and vessels of the neck, knowledge of the topography and morphology of this loop is quite necessary in the modern era. Any variation in the course, contributing roots or branching pattern of the ansa cervicalis, potentially alters and perhaps complicates the course of the procedures involving this nerve such as neurorrhaphy, skull base surgery, neck dissection, and anterior cervical spinal approach. Here, we present an unusual case of an ansa cervicalis encountered upon routine dissection of an adult male cadaver. In this case, the inferior root of the ansa cervicalis was formed by the joining of two rootlets, one originating from spinal accessory nerve and the other from a branch of the cervical plexus to the sternocleidomastoid muscle. The fibers traversing the branch of spinal accessory nerve were derived from the first segments of the cervical spinal cord. This case demonstrates a variant of the spinal accessory nerve plexus that contributed to the formation of the ansa cervicalis. Review of the literature was performed to reveal the possible clinical aspects of this anatomical variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-543
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Accessory nerve
  • Anatomical variation
  • Ansa cervicalis
  • Reinnervation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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