Right Neck Dissection


Neck dissection stands as a crucial surgical procedure predominantly utilized in addressing head and neck cancers. It involves the methodical elimination of lymph nodes and potentially adjacent tissues to curb cancer dissemination. This procedure can be delineated into several types based on the extent of surgery and the structures targeted, including radical neck dissection (RND), modified radical neck dissection (MRND), selective neck dissection (SND), and extended neck dissection.[1]

Neck dissection is recommended for various conditions such as metastatic neck cancer, cancers affecting the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, or thyroid with a high risk of lymphatic spread, and as a prophylactic measure in cases of head and neck cancers with a high risk of occult metastasis.[1] Understanding the anatomy of the cervical lymphatic system, which is divided into distinct levels (I-VII) each containing specific groups of lymph nodes, is essential for conducting effective neck dissection.[2,3] The radical neck dissection (RND), introduced by George Crile Sr. in 1906, was long regarded as the standard treatment for metastatic neck disease.[2,4] However, modifications to the procedure have been developed over time to reduce associated morbidity while ensuring oncological safety.[1]

Surgical procedure 

The surgical procedure of neck dissection typically involves a series of steps: an incision is made along an existing neck crease, subplatysmal flaps are then elevated to expose underlying anatomical structures and lymph nodes, different groups of lymph nodes are systematically removed depending on the type of dissection, and finally, the surgical site is closed in layers with the placement of a drain.[4] Complications of neck dissection may include nerve damage resulting in shoulder dysfunction, bleeding and hematoma formation, infection and issues with wound healing, as well as the development of lymphedema.[1]


Neck dissection is a vital procedure in the management of head and neck cancers, designed to remove lymph nodes that may harbor metastatic disease. The type of neck dissection performed is tailored to the extent of disease and the need to preserve function and reduce morbidity. A thorough understanding of the anatomy and careful surgical technique are essential to optimize outcomes and minimize complications.


Harish K. Neck dissections: radical to conservative. World J Surg Oncol. 2005 Apr 18;3(1):21. doi: 10.1186/1477-7819-3-21. PMID: 15836786; PMCID: PMC1097761.
Jiang, Z., Wu, C., Hu, S. et al. Research on neck dissection for oral squamous-cell carcinoma: a bibliometric analysis. Int J Oral Sci 13, 13 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41368-021-00117-5
Rigual NR, Wiseman SM. Neck dissection: current concepts and future directions. Surg Oncol Clin N Am. 2004;13(1):151-166. doi:10.1016/S1055-3207(03)00119-4
Antonio Riera March, M. (2023, November 28). Radical neck dissection. Background, History of the Procedure, Problem. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/849895-overview?form=fpf

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