hyoid bone [os hyoideum]

Situated in the anterior midline of the neck between the chin and the thyroid cartilage. At rest, it lies at the level of the base of the mandible in the front and the third cervical vertebra behind.

Unlike other bones, the hyoid is only distantly articulated to other bones by muscles of ligaments (the floating bone)

It provides attachment to the muscles of the floor of the mouth and the tongue above, the larynx below, and the epiglottis and pharynx behind.

In a suspected case of murder, a fractured hyoid strongly indicates throttling or strangulation.

What they don’t tell you is, if a surgeon must remove your hyoid:

  • You will have extremely gory dreams–as if your body is remembering what your brain cannot.
  • You will have stitches across your throat to envy Frankenstein.
  • You will have to learn to speak properly again. While you’re healing, and because they didn’t mention it, you’ll wonder why you suddenly start dropping letters, why your silver tongue lies heavy in your mouth.
  • Healing takes a long time. Your neck will never be the same. Years later you’ll still occasionally feel a sensation–like a hand closing slowly around you throat, fingertips jabbing, poking exploritorially along the jugular.

In commemoration of Hyoid Day (July 27, 2007) when my own floating bone was expertly stolen by a surgeon–like a thief in the night–to help rid me of a troublesome lump-in-the-throat.

One Comment

  1. Wow, that’s really scary. Too often, doctors have a very different definition of “informed consent” than the patient. Glad it’s all turned out well in the end.

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