Longus colli muscle

The Longus colli muscle (Latin for long muscle of the neck) is a muscle of the human body.

Longus colli muscle
The anterior vertebral muscles. (Longus colli labeled vertically at center left and center right.)
OriginTransverse processes of C-5 to T-3
InsertionAnterior arch of the atlas
ArteryAscending Pharyngeal and Vertebral Arteries
ActionsFlexes the neck and head
Latinmusculus longus colli
Anatomical terms of muscle

The Longus colli is situated on the anterior surface of the vertebral column, between the atlas and the third thoracic vertebra.

It is broad in the middle, narrow and pointed at either end, and consists of three portions, a superior oblique, an inferior oblique, and a vertical.

  • The superior oblique portion arises from the anterior tubercles of the transverse processes of the third, fourth, and fifth cervical vertebræ and, ascending obliquely with a medial inclination, is inserted by a narrow tendon into the tubercle on the anterior arch of the atlas.
  • The inferior oblique portion, the smallest part of the muscle, arises from the front of the bodies of the first two or three thoracic vertebræ; and, ascending obliquely in a lateral direction, is inserted into the anterior tubercles of the transverse processes of the fifth and sixth cervical vertebræ.
  • The vertical portion arises, below, from the front of the bodies of the upper three thoracic and lower three cervical vertebræ, and is inserted into the front of the bodies of the second, third, and fourth cervical vertebræ.

Clinical significance

It is commonly injured in rear end whiplash injuries, usually resulting from a car crash.

This muscle is in front of the spine and is thought by some scientists that it may cause some whiplash patients to have an unnatural lack of curvature in the patients' neck.

Acute calcific tendinitis of the longus colli muscle can occur. This presents with acute onset of neck pain, stiffness, dysphagia and odynophagia, and must be distinguished from retropharyngeal abscess and other sinister conditions. Imaging diagnosis is by CT or MRI, demonstrating calcification in the muscle in addition to retropharyngeal oedema. Treatment is supportive, with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.[1][2][3]

Additional Images


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 394 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. Amini, Behrang. "Calcific tendinitis of the longus colli muscle | Radiology Reference Article | Radiopaedia.org". radiopaedia.org. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  2. Ade, Tunguturi, Mitchell (August 2017). "Acute Calcific Longus Colli Tendinitis: An Underdiagnosed Cause of Neck Pain and Dysphagia" (PDF). Neurology Bulletin. 5: 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. Dargham, Hanadi Abou; Bytyci, Faton; Shuman, Christian; Stolear, Anton (2017-05-27). "A rare cause of acute dysphagia: acute calcific tendonitis of the longus colli muscle". BMJ Case Reports. 2017: bcr–2017–219684. doi:10.1136/bcr-2017-219684. ISSN 1757-790X. PMC 5612563. PMID 28551599.
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