The Anterior Triangle and Root of Neck

The parathyroid glands

•  They are small, yellowish-brown endocrine glands

• Located posterior to the thyroid, in their own capsule, but sharing the same fascial investment.

•  The superior are thought to originate in the 4 th pharyngeal pouch.

•  The superior ones are consistent in position.

•The inferior are inconsistent and could be found in the anterior mediastinum.

Blood supply  


•  Usually by the inferior thyroid arteries but may be supplied by the superior thyroid arteries or from longitudinal anastomosis between superior and inferior thyroid arteries.

•  The veins drain into the thyroid plexus of the veins on the anterior surface of the thyroid.

Lymphatics of the Parathyroid glands  

•  Inferior deep cervical lymph nodes.

•  Paratracheal lymph nodes.

The lymph vessels from here end in the thoracic duct.

Innervation of the parathyroid glands  

Autonomic from the cervical sympathetic chain (and vagus). These are vasomotor.

Functions of parathyroid glands  


•  The parathyroid glands are essential for regulation of blood calcium.

(What are the functions of calcium in the body?)

•  They are in danger of being destroyed or removed during thyroidectomy. Surgeons usually leave bits of the thyroid posteriorly or identify and preserve at least one of them.