Pharyngeal muscles

Last revised by Dr Timothy Fiori on 23 Mar 2022

There are multiple pharyngeal muscles that make up the structure of the pharynx. They comprise circular and longitudinal muscles whose overall function is to propel food into the esophagus.

These muscles comprise the outer layer of musculature and act to constrict the walls of the pharynx during swallowing:

These muscles make up the inner layer of musculature - they act to elevate (shorten and widen) the pharynx and larynx during swallowing and speaking.

The stylopharyngeus muscle is supplied by the glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX). All other muscles are supplied by the vagus nerve (CN X).

The blood supply for the muscles is provided by the external carotid artery. The main branches include the ascending pharyngeal artery, facial artery, lingual artery, and maxillary artery.

Venous drainage is into the pharyngeal venous plexus and then subsequent drainage into the internal jugular vein.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: pharyngeal constrictors
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