Superior Mediastinum and Root of Neck LO 5

5. What is the carotid sheath, and what are its contents and associations with other structures of the neck?

The carotid sheath is a condensation of deep cervical fascia that surrounds the major vasculature of the neck. Contents include:

  • Common carotid a. (& the proximal internal carotid a.), medially,
  • Internal jugular v., laterally,
  • Vagus n. (CN X), posteriorly, and
  • Deep cervical lymph nodes.

The carotid sheath is found:

  • Deep to the SCM m.,
  • Lateral to the larynx, trachea, pharynx, esophagus, & infrahyoid mm.,
  • Posterior to the ansa cervicalis (sometimes ansa is embedded within the sheath), and
  • Anterolateral to the cervical sympathetic trunk.