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The suprasternal notch is a small notch at the top of the sternum. It is a very visible part of human anatomy which people can see on themselves by looking into a mirror and seeking the hollow at the base of the throat. It can also be very easily palpated by hand, simply by bringing the hand to the top center of the sternum and feeling the area for a dip. This structure is also sometimes known as the jugular notch or as the fossa jugularis sternalis among the Latin-inclined.
This dip at the base of the neck is sometimes assessed during physical examinations in which a patient is checked for signs of obvious health problems. Palpation of the suprasternal notch should not reveal a palpable pulse, except in some older patients. Feeling a pulse can indicate that there is a problem with the aorta which may need to be addressed, as this major blood vessel can lead to severe medical complications if it is compromised.
If a patient has difficulty breathing, sometimes a symptom known as a suprasternal notch retraction can be observed. In these patients, the struggle to breathe can cause the notch to appear to retract into the chest. This is usually a cause of problems with pleural pressure, the pressure in the space which surrounds the lungs. When the pleural pressure is stable and balanced, it facilitates breathing by allowing the lungs to inflate and deflate freely. When the pressure is unstable, it can lead to problems for the patient as she or he fights against the pressure to breathe.
In fashion design, the suprasternal notch has been occupying designers and models alike for thousands of years. It is visually interesting, and is sometimes highlighted with garments which are cut and draped in a particular way. Jewelry also often highlights the suprasternal notch, and sometimes nestles inside it in some designs. The visual interest of these area of the body has also led people in some cultures to regard it as erotically exciting.
This area tends to be of more visual and erotic interest in women. Some excellent examples of suprasternal notch-flaunting design can be seen in films, in which leading ladies are often outfitted in garments which highlight their necks. Films and television series in the vampire genre in particular tend to focus and linger on the anatomy of the neck. Numerous paintings and sculptures also reveal this structure in detail.