Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy

, Volume 40, Issue 8, pp 917–922 | Cite as

Anatomical and histological study of the deep neck fasciae: does the alar fascia exist?

  • M. GavidEmail author
  • J. M. Dumollard
  • C. Habougit
  • Y. Lelonge
  • F. Bergandi
  • M. Peoc’h
  • J. M. Prades
Original Article



The aim of this study was to determine whether the alar fascia is a distinct layer of the deep cervical neck fasciae. The present study also aimed to elucidate the anatomical limits of this fascia.


Neck dissections of ten adult cadavers were performed, layer by layer, in the retropharyngeal region, under a powered operating microscope. Detailed dissections revealed the anatomical limits of the deep neck fasciae. Histological descriptions were also performed on large tissue samples collected from three cervical dissections.


In the ten dissections, three layers of fascia were identified and dissected in the retropharyngeal region: a visceral fascia, a prevertebral fascia and an alar fascia. The alar fascia appeared like a connecting band derivative of the visceral fascia, between both vascular sheaths. It fused completely with the visceral fascia anteriorly at the level of T2 and with the prevertebral fascia posteriorly at the level of C1. No sagittal connection between the visceral fascia and the prevertebral fascia was identified. The stained histological sections confirmed the presence of the visceral and prevertebral fasciae at the oropharyngeal level, with a third intermediate layer closely connected with the visceral fascia.


The alar fascia is a layer of the cervical neck fascia connected with the visceral fascia from C1 to T2 levels. The anatomical limits of this alar fascia and its relationships with the internal carotid artery are important in the surgical management and the prognosis of deep neck infections and retropharyngeal lymph node metastases.


Alar fascia Visceral fascia Prevertebral fascia Layer of the cervical fascia Retropharyngeal node 


Author contributions

MG: protocol/project development, data collection, manuscript writing. JMD: data analysis, manuscript writing. CH: data analysis, histological figure management. YL: data analysis. FB: data collection, dissection. MP: data analysis. JMP: protocol/project development, manuscript correction.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnatomyJean Monnet UniversitySaint-EtienneFrance
  2. 2.Department of Otorhinolaryngology Head Neck SurgeryCHU Saint-EtienneSaint-EtienneFrance
  3. 3.Department of AnatomopathologyCHU Saint-EtienneSaint-EtienneFrance

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