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Nuchal Ligament
Connective Tissue

Nuchal Ligament

Ligamentum nuchae

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The nuchal ligament is a large and powerful fibro-elastic ligament made of tough collagenous and elastic fibers. It extends from the external occipital protuberance of the occipital bone, down over the spinous processes of the cervical vertebrae. At the base of the seventh cervical vertebra (C7), the nuchal ligament continues as the cord-like supraspinous ligament, which inserts along the tips of the spinous processes.

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Anatomical Relations

Superoanteriorly, the nuchal ligament is connected to the posterior dura mater at the atlantooccipital junction space (Dean & Mitchell, 2002).


The nuchal ligament supports the cervical spine and allows for flexion whilst limiting excessive movement. It also provides insertions for muscle attachments into cervical spinous processes, e.g., serratus posterior superior and trapezius.

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Stylohyoid Ligament

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The stylohyoid ligament’s cephalad attachment is to the styloid process, and its caudal attachment is to the hyoid bone.

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