Pharynx is an organ responsible for important functions, such as helping to control breathing or swallowing.
The anatomy of the pharynx is simple. Pharynx is a muscular duct that is located in front of the spine and behind the nostrils, the oral cavity and the larynx.
It is an odd and symmetrical organ. Moreso, it has an approximate length of 14 cm in men and 13 cm in women. As for its transverse diameter, it ranges between 4cm and no more than 2cm at the lower end. We talk about the lower end because the pharynx has a funnel shape.
This duct extends from the base of the skull to the lower edge of the sixth cervical vertebra, continuing down with the esophagus.
Topographically it is divided into 3 parts which we will explain in more detail throughout the article.
These parts are: rhinopharynx, oropharynx and laryngopharynx.
The pharynx participates in very important functions such as swallowing food, vocalization and breathing.
4 Main Functions for which this organ is responsible:
1. It helps digest food by contracting its walls and the swallowing reflex, which sends it to the esophagus.
2. It is involved in breathing, so that the air taken by both the mouth and the nose passes into the trachea and from the nose to the lungs.
3. It’s help vocalization.
4. It equalizes the air pressure in the middle ear causing sound conduction to occur properly.
Anatomy of the pharynx: the rhinopharynx
The rhinopharynx is the only part of this purely aerial organ. Because of this, it is the only structure of the anatomy of the pharynx that is permeable, because it is continuously open to the air. It is located in front of the cervical spine and below the base of the skull. It is also known as nasopharynx.
It communicates down with other parts of the anatomy of the pharynx such as the oropharynx and the laryngopharynx.
The rhinopharynx is delimited by four parts:
1. Anterior : the anterior wall of the rhinopharynx is delimited by the posterior and inferior portion of the nasal septum or vomer and communicates to the nostrils by the choanas.
2. Posterior : in the mucosa of the posterior wall is the opening of the eustachian tube communicating the rhinopharynx with the middle ear.
3. Upper : the upper limit is marked by the skull by the sphenoid bone leather. In children under 12 years of age, adenoids are found in the upper wall of this structure of the pharyngeal anatomy. Adenoids are a patch of tissue that are part of the lymphatic system of our body.
4. Inferior : this limit is formed by the posterior and inferior stubborn of a bone called palatine.
Anatomy of the pharynx: the oropharynx
The oropharynx is responsible for regulating the passage of air and food through the pharynx.
Functionally it is the most complex pharyngeal subdivision. The soft palate separates the rhinopharynx from this structure. It is responsible for regulating the passage of air and food through the pharynx.
Therefore, it has the ability to:
*Limit faringo-nasal reflux
*Propel the bolus
*Facilitate air passage
*Participate in vocalization
Its upper limit is given by the veil of the palate, posterior, spine and prevertebral muscles. Below it is delimited by an imaginary plane that passes through the upper edge of the epiglottis.
The epiglottis is an organ in the form of a cartilaginous lamina that, at the time of swallowing, closes the upper opening of the larynx.