Nasopharynx

The nasopharynx forms the superior-most part of the pharynx, in continuity with the inferior oropharynx, and the posterior continuation of the anterior nasal cavity.

Gross anatomy

Boundaries
  • anteriorly: posterior nares and posterior margin of nasal septum
  • inferiorly: soft palate
  • superiorly: basisphenoid and basiocciput
    • roof of the nasopharynx is called the vault (or fornix) of the pharynx, where the mucosa firmly attaches to the sphenoid and pharyngobasilar fascia
  • posteriorly: C1 and C2
  • laterally
    • the pharyngeal opening of the Eustachian tube is located in the center of the lateral wall
    • lymphoid tissue aggregates, also known as the tubal tonsil occur around the opening of the Eustachian tube
    • the fossa of Rosenmüller lies between the posterior margin of the Eustachian tube and the posterior wall of the nasopharynx

Blood supply

Lymphatic drainage

Lymphatic drainage in the nasopharynx occurs laterally and medially:

  • lateral drainage pathway: lymph vessels traverse the superior constrictor muscle and drain into the lateral retropharyngeal, deep cervical and posterior triangle lymph nodes
  • medial drainage pathway: lymph vessels from the roof and posterior wall drain into the median retropharyngeal lymph nodes

Innervation