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Hyoid Bone

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Updated August 31, 2012

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Hyoid Bone

Anterior neck and cervical spine

Image Courtesy of: Wikipedia
Definition:

The hyoid bone is a mobile bone that is situated at the front (anterior) part of the neck between the jaw bone and the thyroid cartilage. It is a unique part of the human skeleton, and here’s why:

The Location of the Hyoid Bone

As mentioned above, the hyoid bone is located in front of the cervical spine (the bones of the neck). It resides at the level of the 3rd cervical vertebra. It attaches, by means of ligaments, to a projection of bone called the styloid process, which extends from the temporal bone. (The temporal bone forms your temples.) The hyoid bone is firmly secured to the thyroid cartilage.

Other than the attachment point mentioned above, the hyoid bone is separate from the rest of the human skeleton. As such, it is very movable. But if you try to move your hyoid bone, please do so very, very gently in order to avoid an injury.

Purpose of the Hyoid Bone

The hyoid bone serves a number of purposes. The first is to provide a place of attachment for a number of anterior neck muscles including the sternohyoid, mylohyoid, omohyoid, digastric muscles and more. These and other anterior neck muscles play a role in swallowing and can be greatly affected in cases of neck injuries or misalignment. The hyoid also provides a foundation or base from which the tongue can move. It is involved in respiration, as well.

The second purpose of the hyoid is to help prop the airway open.

Source:

Moore, K., Dalley, A. Clinically Oriented Anatomy. Fifth. Edition. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. 2006. Baltimore.

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