Anatomy and physiology of the pharynx

Gastrointest Radiol. 1985;10(3):196-212.


Radiographic evaluation of the passage of a bolus from the mouth through the pharynx into the esophagus is based upon identification of specific anatomical landmarks and the integrated motion accomplished by the oral and pharyngeal muscles during swallowing. Twenty-six muscles and 6 cranial nerves must be coordinated to enable the safe performance of the complex physiological task of transporting liquids and firm food from the mouth into the esophagus. The following discussion and illustrations of pharyngeal anatomy and physiology are pertinent to an understanding of normal swallowing function.

MeSH terms

  • Deglutition*
  • Esophagus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypopharynx / anatomy & histology
  • Hypopharynx / physiology
  • Nasopharynx / anatomy & histology
  • Nasopharynx / physiology
  • Oropharynx / anatomy & histology
  • Oropharynx / physiology
  • Pharyngeal Muscles / physiology
  • Pharynx / anatomy & histology*
  • Pharynx / physiology*
  • Tongue / physiology