Usually confined to the back part of the. neck; hence derived by some from curvus, crooked; but, by others, quasi cerebri via, as the road leading to the brain; also collum, the neck. This is applied figuratively to different parts; and there is the cervix vesica, uteri, ossis. (See Vesica, Uterus, and Processus). But, in its general acceptation, it means that part of the body situated betwixt the head and breast.
The neck is divided into the anterior part or throat, and the posterior or nape. It contains the larynx, a part of the trachea arteria, the pharynx, part of the oesophagus, the musculi cutanei, sterno-mastoidaei, sterno-hyoidaei, hyo-thyroides, coraco-hyoidaei, splenius, com-plexus, the musculi vertebrales, which lie upon the first seven vertebras, and a portion of the medulla spinalis.
The arteries which go to the neck, are the arteriae carotides externae, et internae, vertebrales, et cervicales. The veins are, the venae jugulares externae et internae, cervicales, et vertebrales. The nerves are, the portio dura of the auditory nerves, the eighth, ninth, and tenth pair, the seven cervical pairs, and the nervi sympathetici maximi.
A contraction of the neck to one side is among the disorders to which it is subject. Tulpius calls this contraction caput obstipum; but it is a species of con-traclura: he hath removed this disorder in those who had exceeded their twentieth year, and were born with it: others have had the same success.
This disorder is usually described under the title of the wry neck. It proceeds from burns, a stricture in the skin, a relaxation of some of the muscles in the neck on one side, or a contraction of them on the other; but the most common cause is a contraction of the mastoid or sterno-mastoid muscle only.
If it depends on a paralysis on one side, the cure must depend on that of the disease: if from inflammation, external blisters and stimulants are employed. In general, emollients on the contracted part, and stimulants on the opposite, afford the most probable means of relief. Electrical sparks, drawn from the relaxed side, are also often useful; and the contracted muscle should be kept at its full extent of distention, by a bandage keeping the head steady in the opposite direction.
If these remedies fail, two or three incisions transversely through the skin, where it is contracted, may be made. If the cause is from several muscles being contracted, the cure will be more difficult; but if there is a contraction of the mastoid muscle only, or, as called by some, the sterno-mastoid muscle, the cure is effected by dividing it.
In this operation, Mr. Sharpe directs us "to make a transverse incision through the skin and fat, something broader than the muscle, and not above half an inch from the clavicle; then passing the probed razor with care underneath the muscle, draw it out, and cut the muscle. After the incision is made, the wound is to be filled with dry lint, and always dressed so as to prevent the extremities of the muscles from re-uniting; to which end they are to be separated from each other as much as possible, by the assistance of a supporting bandage for the head during the whole time of the cure, which will generally be about a month."
Mr. Pott directs to cut through the muscle as near the middle as may be, taking care not to wound the carotid artery, nor the jugular vein. Dr. Hunter prefers making the incision near the sternum: he says, that at the lower part of the muscle it is best to perform this operation, because, there, the cellular membrane is not in any great proportion. Mr. Sheldon advises us not to use the razor above named, as we may endanger cutting the carotid artery, the jugular vein, and the eighth pair of nerves. He prefers the incision knife, to cut gently in a transverse direction; in that case the fibres will fly from the edge of the knife, and, with a moderate attention, the dangers just mentioned will be avoided. See Bell's Surgery, vol. iv. p. 366. White's Surgery, p. 387.