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Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2004 Sep-Oct;6(5):342-7.

Variability of the postauricular muscle complex: analysis of 40 hemicadaver dissections.

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  • 1Aesthetic Surgical Associates, Metairie, LA 70006, USA.



The postauricular area is often explored by reconstructive and otologic surgeons. We previously reported on the use of postauricular tissues as a graft for wrapping hydroxyapatite implants in orbital reconstruction. This procedure reduced the incidence of implant exposure, while achieving acceptable cosmetic results. Although much is known about the postauricular area, muscle and fascial relationships and potential variations in anatomy remain ill defined.


To identify and analyze variations in the patterns of the postauricular muscle complex (PMC) and to study the relationships of the fascial contributions from the components that make up the PMC.


Dissections were performed using 40 fresh specimens. Muscular and fascial components of the PMC were dissected, analyzed, and photographed.


The PMC receives contributions from the occipitalis and trapezius muscles, the deep temporal and sternocleidomastoid fasciae, and the superior and posterior auricular and platysma muscles. Major contributors to the PMC were present in every specimen. Minor contributors were more variable in their presence and contributions. The posterior auricular muscle was identified as having several muscle bundles in 1 specimen and absent in 2 specimens (5%). The occipitalis fascia was seen to insert superior to the auricle and to blend with the deep temporal fascia in 3 cases (7%). The platysma muscle contributed to the PMC in 8 cases (20%).


This study demonstrated important variations in the presence and contributions of 7 previously known muscular structures and their role in forming the PMC. Seven distinct patterns are identified, and the potential clinical implications of these anatomical variations are illustrated.

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