Palatopharyngeus muscle

Last revised by Travis Fahrenhorst-Jones on 31 Aug 2021

The palatopharyngeus muscle is a muscle of the head and neck, and one of the inner longitudinal muscles of the pharynx. It is also referred to as one of the five paired muscles of the soft palate.  The paired muscles create ridges of mucous membrane in the lateral pharyngeal wall called the palatopharyngeal arches.

The palatopharyngeus muscle is made up of two fasciculi attached to the superior surface of the palatine aponeurosis. The anterior fasciculus has fibers which additionally originate from the posterior border of the hard palate. The posterior fasciculus joins the posterior band of the contralateral palatopharyngeus muscle in the midline.

The fasciculi unite at the level of the soft palate. It courses inferolaterally posterior to the tonsil and descends to attach to the posterior border of the thyroid cartilage.

  • via correspondingly-named veins

The muscle receives motor innervation from the cranial portion of the accessory nerve (CN XI). This occurs via the pharyngeal plexus with branches from the vagus nerve (CN X) and glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX).

  • elevation of the larynx and pharynx
  • deglutition

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