Unusual origin of the levator scapulae muscle from mastoid process

Surg Radiol Anat. 2015 Dec;37(10):1277-81. doi: 10.1007/s00276-015-1508-6. Epub 2015 Jun 16.


Anatomic variations of the neck musculature are uncommon and incidentally found during cadaveric dissection. The levator scapulae muscle is found in the floor of the posterior cervical triangle. It connects the axial skeleton with the superior appendicular skeleton and acts as a scapular elevator. Normally, it originates from the transverse processes of first four cervical vertebrae and inserts into the superomedial border of the scapula. During a routine cadaveric dissection, we encountered an additional slip of the left levator scapulae originating from the left mastoid process. This muscle is frequently implicated in the etiopathology of neck and shoulder pain. Knowledge of this variation is not only interesting to anatomists, but also to surgeons operating on the posterior neck and physicians managing patients with cervical or shoulder pain.

Keywords: Cervical pain; Levator scapulae; Mastoid; Neck muscle; Unusual origin; Variation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadaver
  • Dissection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mastoid*
  • Superficial Back Muscles / abnormalities*