Background information respiration | Anatomy | Upper respiratory tract | Pharyngeal area

Anatomical parts of the pharynx

The pharynx connects the nasal and oral cavity with larynx and oesophagus. Anatomically the pharynx is divided into three parts: nasal, oral and laryngeal.

The oropharynx lies posterior to the mouth reaching from the soft palate upwards into the nasopharynx and downwards to the upper border of the epiglottis. This part of the pharynx belongs to the respiratory as well as to the digestive system since it is a passageway for food and air.

The nasopharynx is located superior to the soft palate. At its upper end it communicates with the nasal cavity while downwards it reaches into the oropharynx. The auditory tube which connect the pharynx with the middle ears open through the walls of the nasopharynx.

The laryngopharynx, just below the oropharynx, extends from the upper border of the epiglottis to the lower border of the cricoid cartilage.


Shier D, Butler J, Lewis R. Hole's human anatomy and physiology. 2004. McGraw Hill: New York

3-D morphological structures of the upper respiratory tract

This model shows a sagittal section through the upper respiratory tract. It can be moved horizontally around one axis. Clicking on the "labelling" button identifies the structures with their correct anatomical terms.

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