Oropharynx

Last revised by Dr Daniel MacManus on 26 Aug 2022

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.

  • 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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