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The occiput is the posterior-lower part of the human head. Anatomically, the occiput consists of the occipital bone and the structures of the central nervous system that it protects. Some of the most important parts of the brain are located in the occipital area, therefore occipital pathologies always require careful diagnostics. The poll is also a relatively common location for headaches. Check which structures of the brain are located in the occipital area, how exactly the occiput is built and which diseases most often affect the occipital area of ​​the head.

Occipitalis the colloquial name of the part of the skull located on the posterior-lower side. In anatomy, the terms " occipital bone " or " occipital area of ​​the head " - depending on whether we describe only the bone structures of the skull or also its interior. The occipital bone is a single, flat bone located at the back of the skull.

Potylica - construction

The occipital bone connects on both sides with the paired temporal and parietal bones by means of sutures, i.e. permanent and immobile bone connections. In infants, the connection of the occipital bone with the parietal bones is soft and immature - it is called the posterior fontanelle. The posterior fontanelle is palpable until around four months of age.

In addition to being connected to the other bones of the skull, the occipital bone also has a connection to the spine. It is known as the atlas occipital joint. It is an even joint connecting the occipital bone with the first cervical vertebra (this vertebra is called the apical vertebra, hence the name of the joint). The connection of the occipital bone to the spine is movable, and the structure of the atlococcal joint allows us to tilt our head forward and back - thus making nodding movements.

The outer side of the occipital bone is covered with several layers of tissue. One of them is the vast occipital-frontal muscle that covers the surface of the skull. The occipital area also has its "own" occipital artery, as well as the occipital nerves. They are responsible for the feeling in the occipital area and the mobility of the neck muscles. The outermost layer of the occipital region is the scalp.

A characteristic feature of the occipital bone is the presence of a large, round opening, called the great opening (Latin foramen magnum). Anatomically, inof the occipital bone there are four parts, located around the great foramen. At the very back is the largest part, called the scales of the occipital bone. From the inside, the occipital lobes of the brain and the cerebellar hemispheres adjoin it. On both sides of the great foramen there are lateral parts of the occipital bone, while on the front side - the basilar part.

The great foramen is the place where the inside of the skull connects to the spinal canal. At the height of the great foramen, there is the medulla, i.e. the structure connecting the spinal cord with the higher parts of the brain. The medulla is one of the most important parts of the entire central nervous system.

There are so-called vital centers, i.e. places responsible for the coordination of vital activities: breathing, blood circulation and heart function. Vessels that ensure proper blood supply to the brain also pass through the large opening.

When discussing the anatomy of the occipital region, it is worth learning about the concept of the so-called posterior skull fossa. If you look at the base of the human skull from the inside, you can easily see 3 depressions. These are named after the anterior, middle, and posterior fossa of the skull.

The occipital bone is the main boundary of the fossil rearmost - the posterior fossa of the skull. Important structures of the brain are located in the posterior fossa of the skull: the cerebellum and some parts of the brainstem. Their functions are presented in the next item.

Occipital - functions

The basic structure of the occipital region is the occipital bone, which is a cover for the nearby structures of the central nervous system - the cerebellum, the occipital lobes of the brain, and the bridge and medulla, belonging to the brainstem. Therefore, we can assign a protective function to the occipital bone. The brain structures in the occipital area, on the other hand, play the following roles:

  • Cerebellum: is the center of coordination of movements of the whole body, is responsible for maintaining balance, performing precise movements, and also for fluent speech.
  • Occipital lobes of the brain: they are the location of the so-called visual cortex, i.e. the part of the brain responsible for the analysis of visual stimuli. Thanks to it, we are able to recognize the shapes and colors of the objects we see.
  • Bridge: Belongs to the brain stem, transmits nerve impulses between the brain and spinal cord. Some cranial nerves also begin in the bridge: the abductor nerve (responsible for eyeball abduction), the facial nerve (responsible for facial sensation and taste), and the vestibulocochlear nerve (responsible for hearing and the organ of balance).
  • Core extended: this is another onethe structure of the brain stem located in the occipital region. In the medulla there are reflex centers that we do not consciously control - the vomiting, coughing, sneezing, yawning and swallowing centers. However, the most important part of the medulla is the so-called vital centers, responsible for maintaining basic life functions: breathing, heart function, and the proper tension of blood vessels.

Occipital - diseases

We already know how important the role of the organs in the occipital region is. Therefore, it is not difficult to guess that diseases, and above all injuries of the back of the head, can have very serious consequences. On the other hand, pain in the occipital area is relatively frequent, and many of them are quite mild. Therefore, it is worth presenting in which diseases of the back of the head we should seek medical help, and also when we should not be too worried.

Occipital injuries

Injuries of the occipital area most often occur as a result of a fall and hitting the back of the head on a hard surface. Occipital injuries can be divided into open and closed, depending on whether the skin is broken.

The effects of occiput injuries can be very diverse - from completely harmless bruising of the skin, through concussion, to severe craniocerebral injuries. It is also worth knowing that even if we do not see the damage with the naked eye, the delicate tissues inside the skull may have been damaged.

When should we absolutely see a doctor? If, after the occipital injury, we observe disturbances of consciousness, seizures or severe headaches, do not hesitate to seek medical help. Usually, in such a situation, imaging examinations of the head (usually computed tomography) will be performed, which will allow to exclude the serious consequences of injuries (hematomas, contusion of the brain).

A very dangerous complication of craniocerebral injuries is the increase in pressure inside the skull and the accompanying swelling of the brain. Symptoms of this condition include confusion, nausea and vomiting, pupil asymmetry, and changes in breathing rhythm. Post-traumatic brain edema causes the brain to increase significantly in volume. As the space inside the skull is limited, the brain can move to wherever it "finds" an empty space.

In such a situation, the brain structures may shift to the great foramen of the occipital bone. This condition is called intussusception. Intussusception requires immediate medical attention - it causes pressure on the area of ​​the medulla, in which, as we already know, there are centers responsible for supporting vital functions. Intussusceptionforamen of the occipital bone is considered a direct emergency.

Pain in the back of the head

Headaches in the occipital region can have a variety of causes. The basic classification of headaches includes primary (such as migraine) and secondary (i.e. a symptom of other diseases) headaches. The clinical symptoms and the nature of the pain alone do not usually allow the cause of the ailments to be determined. However, a complete medical examination and imaging examinations of the head are necessary.

You should also take a careful history of the circumstances of the pain and the accompanying symptoms (nausea, vomiting, photophobia, dizziness). Examples of causes of headaches in the occipital region are: pathologies of the cervical spine, tension pains related to excessive tension in the vasculature, or headaches caused by arterial hypertension.

In case of occipital pains, intracranial abnormalities such as the presence of a tumor or chronic hematoma should also be excluded. Determining the cause of pain is necessary to select the most effective therapy.

Soften the back of the head

The softening of the occiput is not actually a disease, but a symptom found in the youngest patients. One of the common causes of occipital softening in infants is rickets due to vitamin D deficiency. To find out the exact cause of occipital softening, it is also necessary to study other parameters related to bone metabolism: calcium, phosphate and parathyroid hormone levels.

Only then is it possible to determine the state of the child's bone structure and implement appropriate treatment. Vitamin D supplementation is necessary in many cases. It is worth mentioning, however, that occipital softening may be an isolated symptom in children with normal laboratory parameters. Then it is considered a variant of physiology and no treatment is started.

  • Head injuries. When is a blow to the head dangerous?
  • Skull trepanation: a method not only for intracranial hematoma
  • Contusion of the brain - symptoms and treatment. What complications can a contusion of the brain cause?

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