Hiérarchie anatomique

Espace carotidien



The carotid space is a roughly cylindrical space in the head and neck. It extends from the skull base through to the aortic arch and is circumscribed by all three layers of the deep cervical fascia, forming the carotid sheath. The bifurcation of the common carotid usually occurs at the boundary of the suprahyoid and infrahyoid spaces. A mass originating from the carotid space will cause anterior displacement of the parapharyngeal space.

The suprahyoid portion of the carotid space is often synonymous with the post-styloid compartment of the parapharyngeal space. 


  • Common carotid artery inferiorly and internal carotid artery superiorly
  • Internal jugular vein
  • Accessory nerve (XI)
  • Hypoglossal nerve (XII)
  • Glossopharyngeal nerve (IX): anterior to vessels
  • Vagus nerve (X): posterior to vessels in posterior notch; extends below hyoid to mediastinum within the carotid sheath
  • Sympathetic nerves: medial to vessels lateral to retropharyngeal space
  • Deep cervical lymph node chain


Relations of the suprahyoid carotid space:

  • Anteriorly: masticator space; parapharyngeal space
  • Laterally: parotid space
  • Posteriorly: perivertebral space


  • superior margin: lower border of jugular foramen
  • inferior margin: aortic arch
  • anterolateral margin: sternocleidomastoid muscle


Related pathology

  • Vascular pseudotumours
    • ectatic carotid artery
    • asymmetrically enlarged internal jugular vein
  • Vascular lesions
    • arterial or venous thrombosis
    • internal jugular vein thrombophlebitis
    • carotid artery dissection
    • carotid artery aneurysms
  • Cellulitis/abscess
  • Benign tumour
    • schwannoma
    • neurofibroma
    • paraganglioma
    • meningioma
  • Lymphoma
  • Metastatic or reactive lymphadenopathy

Harnsberger HR, Glastonbury CM, Michel MA et-al. Diagnostic Imaging: Head and Neck. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. (2010) ISBN:1931884781
Imaging of the Head and Neck. Thieme. (2012) ISBN:3131505311.
Gray's Anatomy (20th U.S. edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, published in 1918)


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