Lateral congenital anomalies of the pharyngeal apparatus: part II. anatomy of the abnormal for the surgeon

Am Surg. 2011 Sep;77(9):1243-56.


"Anatomy of the abnormal"-a branch of surgical anatomy-deals with relations of an anomaly to surrounding entities. Here, lateral congenital anomalies of the pharyngeal apparatus are examined; their relations to entities of the neck can be explained embryologically. Location of embryonic pharyngeal arches, clefts, and pouches in the adult is presented and terminology of these anomalies (fistulas, sinuses, cysts) is defined. First "cleft and pouch" anomalies relate with the parotid and facial nerve. Second cleft and pouch anomalies course deeply to second arch structures and superficially to third arch structures. Consequently, they relate with hypoglossal and glossopharyngeal nerves and internal and external carotid arteries. Third cleft and pouch anomalies pass deep to third arch entities and superficial to those of the fourth arch and relate with glossopharyngeal, hypoglossal, superior and recurrent laryngeal nerves, and the internal carotid artery. The complicated course of fourth cleft and pouch anomalies brings them into relationship with glossopharyngeal, hypoglossal, superior and recurrent nerves, internal carotid, aorta, and subclavian arteries. Found superficially are veins (external and anterior jugular, common facial, communicating), nerves (transverse cervical, great auricular, mandibular, cervical branches of facial), and relevant spinal nerves (e.g., accessory). Knowledge of these anatomical relations helps prevent anatomical complications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy, Regional*
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Diseases / congenital*
  • Laryngeal Diseases / surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures*
  • Pharynx / abnormalities*
  • Pharynx / surgery