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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 constrictor, tongue muscles, tensor, and levator veli palatini 6.
On this page:
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:
base (posterior third) of tongue (including lingual tonsils)
tonsillar complex (palatine tonsils, tonsillar fossae, and tonsillar pillars)
soft palate (inferior surface and uvula)
pharyngeal wall (lateral and posterior)
Various spaces are included:
glossotonsillar sulci (area between base of tongue/lingual tonsils and palatine tonsils)
valleculae (space between the base of tongue and epiglottis)
oropharyngeal isthmus (space between the palatoglossal arches)
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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