Os hyoideum

The locating of the hyoid bone in anatomy atlases and textbooks may be misleading, as it is usually reviewed together with the bones of the skull. The reason for that lies in the legacy anatomy nomenclature preserved up to the end of the XX century1, allocating hyoid bone as part of the viscerocranium. Strictly speaking, the hyoid bone is not the structural part of the skull but rather is an integral part of the larynx (just like sesamoid bones are an integral part of the muscle's tendon). However, the most recent anatomical terminology review2 allocates the hyoid bone and mandible separately from the skull's bones in the chapter defined as "the extracranial bones of the head."


  • 1 Federative Committee on Anatomical Terminology. Terminologia Anatomica. Thieme; 1998.
  • 2 FIPAT. Terminologia Anatomica. 2nd ed. Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology, 2019

  • Icon of crossfade image The frontal view of the hyoid bone
    The frontal view of the hyoid bone
    Os hyoideum. Anterior aspect.
    An alternative name for the hyoid bone is the lingual bone, as many tongue muscles attach to it.
    The list of terms: Corpus ossis hyoidei – Body of hyoid bone
    Cornua majora ossis hyoidei – Greater horns of hyoid bone
    Cornua minora ossis hyoidei – Lesser horns of hyoid bone

    Posterior view of the lingual bone Posterior view of the lingual bone
    Posterior aspect of the hyoid bone.
    Due to the fine horseshoe shape, the hyoid looks fragile. However, the isolated hyoid fracture is very rare and occurs in less than 1% of all fractures1. The reason for that is the high mobility of the bone and the secure localization just under the mandible. Nevertheless, the fracture is quite common in victims of manual strangulation, with an incidence of up to 50%2.
  • 1 Keerthi, R. & Quadri, A. Hyoid bone fracture: associated with head and ceck trauma—a rare case report. J Maxillofac Oral Surg, 2016; 15(Suppl 2):249–252.
  • 2 Weintraub CM. Fractures of the hyoid bone. Med Leg J. 1961;29:209–216.

  • Icon of crossfade image The iso (oblique) view  of the lingual bone
    Oblique view of the hyoid bone
    The oblique (supero-lateral) aspect of the hyoid bone.
    The image demonstrates the cartilage separating the wings of the hyoid from its body. The age at which the complete ossification of the hyoid bone occurs is very variable. The incomplete fusion of ossification centers depicted here is the most commonly observed anatomical variant for the adult male of the age below 40*.
    The list of terms: Corpus ossis hyoidei – Body of hyoid
    Cornu majus ossis hyoidei – Greater horn of hyoid bone
    Cornu minus ossis hyoidei – Lesser horn of hyoid bone

  • * Fisher E, et al. Hyoid bone fusion and bone density across the lifespan: prediction of age and sex. Forensic Sci Medicine Pathology, 2016; 12(2):146–157.

  • 360° rotation of the lingual bone.

    First published: 15/Feb/2021