Last revised by Dr Daniel MacManus on 26 Aug 2022

The nasopharynx (plural: nasopharynges or nasopharynxes) forms the superior-most part of the pharynx, in continuity with the inferior oropharynx, and the posterior continuation of the anterior nasal cavity. It also forms part of the upper respiratory tract.

  • anteriorly: posterior nares and posterior margin of nasal septum 1,2
  • inferiorly: soft palate 2
  • superiorly: basisphenoid and basiocciput 1,2
    • roof of the nasopharynx is called the vault (or fornix) of the pharynx, where the mucosa firmly attaches to the sphenoid and pharyngobasilar fascia
  • posteriorly: C1 and C2 1
  • laterally
    • the pharyngeal opening of the Eustachian tube is located in the center of the lateral wall 1,2
    • lymphoid tissue aggregates, also known as the tubal tonsil occur around the opening of the Eustachian tube 1,3
    • the fossa of Rosenmüller lies between the posterior margin of the Eustachian tube and the posterior wall of the nasopharynx 1,2

Lymphatic drainage in the nasopharynx occurs laterally and medially:

  • lateral drainage pathway: lymph vessels traverse the superior constrictor muscle and drain into the lateral retropharyngeal, deep cervical and posterior triangle lymph nodes 4
  • medial drainage pathway: lymph vessels from the roof and posterior wall drain into the median retropharyngeal lymph nodes 4

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 2
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 3: nasopharynx on CT neck (annotated)
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

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

     Thank you for updating your details.