Cadaveric and Ultrasonographic Validation of Needling Placement in the Cervical Multifidus Muscle

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2017 Jun;40(5):365-370. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2017.03.002. Epub 2017 Apr 13.


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine if a needle is able to reach the cervical multifidus during the application of dry needling or acupuncture.

Methods: Dry needling and ultrasound imaging of cervical multifidi was conducted on 5 patients (age: 32 ± 5 years) with mechanical neck pain and on 2 fresh cadavers (age: 64 ± 1 years). Dry needling was done using a needle of 40 mm in length inserted perpendicular to the skin about 1 cm lateral to the spinous process at C3-C4. The needle was advanced from a posterior to anterior direction into the cervical multifidus with a slight inferior-medial angle (approximately 10°) to reach the vertebra lamina. For the cadaveric study, the multifidus was isolated by carefully resecting the superficial posterior cervical muscles: trapezius, splenius, and semispinalis. For the ultrasonographic study, a convex transducer was placed transversely over C3-C4 after the insertion of the needle into the muscle.

Results: The results of both the cadaveric and ultrasonic studies found that the needle does pierce the cervical multifidus muscle during insertion and that the tip of the needle rests properly against the vertebral laminae, thereby guarding the sensitive underlying spinal structures from damage.

Conclusion: This anatomical and ultrasound imaging study supports that dry needling of the cervical multifidus could be conducted clinically.

Keywords: Cervical Vertebrae; Neck Muscles; Spine; Ultrasonography.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Region / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbosacral Region / innervation*
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations
  • Paraspinal Muscles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Paraspinal Muscles / physiology*
  • Ultrasonography