Supraclavicular Nerves

Written by Nastasja Gugleta

Last updated June 17, 2024 • 7 Revisions

The supraclavicular nerves are branches of the cervical plexus within the root of the neck and clavicular region.

They contribute to the sensory innervation of the upper chest and shoulder.

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Course

The supraclavicular nerves arise from the cervical plexus within the neck. First, a common trunk is formed by the ventral rami (divisions) of C3 and C4 spinal roots.

This common trunk emerges at the posterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, then passes deep to the platysma and deep cervical fascia.

The common trunk then divides into medial, intermediate and lateral branches. These pierce the deep fascia above the clavicle to run in the subcutaneous plane, providing sensory branches to the skin:

  • Medial: Crosses the external jugular vein and sternocleidomastoid to innervate the skin overlying the medial head of the clavicle.
  • Intermediate: Crosses the clavicle to innervate the skin overlying pectoralis major and deltoid.
  • Lateral: Passes over the trapezius muscle to innervate the skin of the superior and posterior shoulder

Fig 1
The supraclavicular nerves are branches of the cervical plexus.

Fig 2
The supraclavicular nerves arise from a common trunk, which emerges from the posterior border of the sternocleidomastoid.

Sensory Supply

The supraclavicular nerve has three main sensory branches:

  • Medial supraclavicular nerves – Supply the sternoclavicular joint and the skin overlying the medial head of the clavicle.
  • Intermediate supraclavicular nerves – Supply the skin overlying pectoralis major and deltoid.
  • Lateral supraclavicular nerves – Supply the skin of the superior and posterior shoulder.