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Muscles of the pharynx: want to learn more about it?

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Muscles of the pharynx

Learning objectives

After going through this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Name the muscles of the pharynx.
  2. Describe the attachments, function, and innervation of the muscles of the pharynx.

Watch videos

In the previous study, we learned that the pharynx, commonly known as the throat, is a muscular column that runs between the nasal and oral cavities of the head and the larynx and esophagus in the neck. It forms a common pathway for food and air passing between those structures and is essential in the process of swallowing and breathing. It also participates in the process of speaking (phonation).

The functions of the pharynx are accomplished by several muscles, divided into two groups based on the orientation of their fibers. The constrictor muscles are formed by a series of overlapping circularly orientated fibers while the longitudinal/elevator muscles have fibers that are oriented vertically. 

Curious about the muscles of the pharynx? Check out our video on this topic!

Take a quiz

Test your knowledge of the muscles of the pharynx by taking our quiz below!

To challenge yourself even further, customize your own quiz to get a broader collection of questions about the pharynx.

Browse atlas

Review all the muscles you learned today in the gallery below!

Summary

Key points about the constrictor muscles of the pharynx
Superior constrictor Origin: Pterygomandibular raphe, posterior end of mylohyoid line of mandible, pterygoid hamulus
Insertion:
Pharyngeal tubercle (occipital bone),pharyngeal raphe
Middle constrictor Origin: Greater and lesser horn of hyoid bone and stylohyoid ligament
Insertion
: Pharyngeal raphe, blends with superior and inferior constrictors
Inferior constrictor Origin: Oblique line of thyroid cartilage (thyropharyngeal part) and cricoid cartilage (cricopharyngeal part)
Insertion:
Pharyngeal raphe, blends with circular esophageal fibers (cricopharyngeal part)
Function and innervation Function: Constriction of the pharynx
Innervation:
Vagus nerve (CN X)
Key points about the longitudinal muscles of the pharynx
Stylopharyngeus Origin: Styloid process of temporal bone
Insertion:
Pharyngeal wall (blends with constrictors), posterior border of thyroid cartilage
Function:
Elevation of pharynx and larynx
Innervation:
Glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX)
Salpingopharyngeus Origin: Cartilaginous part of auditory tube
Insertion:
Pharyngeal wall (blends with palatopharyngeus)
Function:
Elevation of pharynx, opens auditory tube during swallowing
Innervation:
Vagus nerve (CN X)
Palatopharyngeus Origin: Palatine aponeurosis, posterior border of hard palate
Insertion:
Pharyngeal wall (blends with contralateral palatopharyngeus), posterior border of thyroid cartilage
Function:
Elevation of pharynx; closure of isthmus of fauces
Innervation:
Vagus nerve (CN X)

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