Oropharynx

Last revised by Craig Hacking on 22 Feb 2024

The oropharynx forms part of the pharynx, being the continuation of the oral cavity and nasopharynx superiorly, and the larynx and hypopharynx inferiorly. It also forms part of the upper respiratory tract and the gastrointestinal tract.

Its mucosa layer is continuous with the oral cavity, its submucosal layer is continuous with pharyngobasilar fascia, and its muscular layer is continuous with the superior pharyngeal constrictor muscle, tongue muscles, tensor, and levator veli palatini 6.

  • anteriorly: vertical plane defined by the circumvallate papillae, anterior tonsillar pillars, and border of hard and soft palate

  • posteriorly: posterior pharyngeal wall

  • superiorly: level of the soft palate free border

  • inferiorly: level of the hyoid bone or tip of epiglottis

  • laterally: tonsillar fossae and pillars

The subsites of the oropharyngeal tissues include the following:

Various spaces are included:

For staging purposes, the lingual (anterior) surface of the epiglottis is excluded and instead classified as part of the larynx, and the nasopharyngeal (superior) surface of the soft palate is excluded and instead classified as part of the nasopharynx.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 2
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  • Figure 2
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  • Figure 3: oropharynx on CT neck (annotated)
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