4. Circulatory and Respiratory system


Nasopharynx (Pars nasalis pharyngis); Image: Begoña Rodriguez

NasopharynxPars nasalis pharyngis1/6Synonyms: Nasal part of pharynx, Nasopharynx,

After passing through the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, the inhaled air exits through the choanae into the pharynx. The pharynx is a funnel-shaped muscular tube that contains three parts; the nasopharynx, oropharynx and laryngopharynx. 

  • The nasopharynx is the first and superiormost part of the pharynx, found posterior to the nasal cavity. This part of the pharynx serves only as an airway, and is thus lined with respiratory epithelium. Inferiorly, the uvula and soft palate swing upwards during swallowing to close off the nasopharynx and prevent food from entering the nasal cavity.
  • The oropharynx is found posterior to the oral cavity and communicates with it through the oropharyngeal isthmus. The oropharynx is a pathway for both the air incoming from the nasopharynx and the food incoming from the oral cavity. Thus, the oropharynx is lined with the more protective non-keratinizing stratified squamous epithelium.
  • The laryngopharynx (hypopharynx) is the most inferior part of the pharynx. It is the point at which the digestive and respiratory systems diverge. Anteriorly, the laryngopharynx continues into the larynx, whereas posteriorly it continues as the esophagus. 

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