Dr Francis Deng and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

The hypopharynx or laryngopharynx forms the most inferior portion of the pharynx, being the continuation of the oropharynx superiorly and both the larynx and oesophagus inferiorly. 

Gross anatomy

The hypopharynx begins as the continuation of the oropharynx at the pharyngoepiglottic fold (which is at the level of the hyoid bone) superiorly, and extends inferiorly to the level of the inferior aspect of the cricoid cartilage, where it continues as the cervical oesophagus. 

It is a mucosa-lined, muscular tube with its posterolateral walls formed by the inferior constrictor muscle and anterior wall by laryngeal cartilages. It forms part of the pharyngeal mucosal space

  • anteriorly: post-cricoid mucosa, posterior cricoarytenoid muscle
  • posteriorly: mucosal wall, middle and inferior constrictor muscles
  • superiorly: hyoid bone, glossoepiglottic and pharyngoepiglottic folds
  • inferiorly: cricoid cartilage, cricopharyngeus muscle

Three subsites of the hypopharynx are described, being pertinent to localise where squamous cell carcinoma arises:

  • pyriform sinus
  • posterior wall
  • post-cricoid region / pharyngo-oesophageal junction: forms the anterior wall

Related pathology

Anatomy: Head and neck
Share article

Article information

rID: 40793
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • laryngopharynx

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Figure 1: pharynx - illustration
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 1: normal appearance on barium swallow
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.