Radical Neck Dissection

Last modified on August 8th, 2018

Radical Neck Dissection

A radical (or modified radical) neck dissection is performed when cancer has already spread to the glands in the neck.

The difference between a radical, or modified radical neck dissection, and a selective neck dissection is that often structures such as muscles, nerves and blood vessels that can normally be preserved have become invaded by cancer. This means that the surgery has to be more aggressive to make sure that cancer isn’t left behind in the neck.

Major structures normally preserved in a selective neck dissection may have to be sacrificed, including a combination of SCM (Sternocleidomastoid) a large muscle in the neck which runs from behind the ear to the clavicle, The internal jugular vein (a large vein in the neck), and the Spinal accessory nerve which contributes to shoulder function.


The procedure is otherwise similar to the selective neck dissection. Similarly patients are normally in hospital for a few days afterwards.