The perivertebral space is a cylinder of soft tissue lying posterior to the retropharyngeal space and danger space surrounded by the prevertebral layer of the deep cervical fascia and extends from the skull base to the upper mediastinum. 

The deep cervical fascia sends a deep slip to the to the transverse process which subdivides the space into:

  • Prevertebral portion: anteriorly located
  • Paraspinal portion: posteriorly located



  • prevertebral portion
    • cervical vertebral body and disc
    • prevertebral muscles: longus colli and capiti
    • scalene msucles
    • vertebral artery and vein
    • phrenic nerve
    • brachial plexus
  • paraspinal portion
    • posterior elements of cervical vertebrae
    • paraspinal muscles



  • anterior: danger space and retropharyngeal space
  • posterior: fascia attaches to spinous process and ligamentum nuchae
  • lateral: surrounded by posterior cervical space
  • superior: base of skull
  • inferior: the perivertebral space is usually defined from the skull base to superior mediastinum but can be extended to the level of the coccyx


Related pathology 

  • retropharyngeal abscess
  • osseous metastases
  • chordoma
  • osteomyelitis
  • schwannoma
  • chondromas
  • direct invasion by squamous cell carcinoma
  • pseudotumours
    • anterior herniated disc
    • vertebral osteophytes
    • longus colli tendon calcification
    • lymphoma

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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