Hypopharynx

Dr Dan J Bell 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

Boundaries
  • 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
Subsites

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

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

Related pathology

Head and neck anatomy
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Article information

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

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Cases and figures

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    Figure 1: pharynx - illustration
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    Case 1: normal appearance on barium swallow
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