What is the anatomy relevant to performing sleep endoscopy?

Updated: Aug 21, 2019
  • Author: Philip E Zapanta, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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The pharynx is bounded by the base of the skull superiorly; the cricoid cartilage inferiorly; and the nasal cavities, the oropharyngeal inlet, and the base of the tongue anteriorly.

The boundaries of the oropharynx are the lower edge of the soft palate superiorly and the hyoid bone inferiorly. The anterior border is formed by the oropharyngeal inlet and the base of the tongue, and the posterior border is formed by the superior and middle pharyngeal constrictor muscles and their overlying mucosa.

Inferiorly, the posterior one third of the tongue, or the base of the tongue, continues the anterior border of the oropharynx. The vallecula, which is the space between the base of the tongue and the epiglottis, forms the inferior border of the oropharynx. This is typically at the level of the hyoid bone.

The borders of the hypopharynx are the hyoid bone superiorly and the upper esophageal sphincter (UES), or cricopharyngeus muscle, inferiorly.

The anterior boundary of the hypopharynx consists largely of the laryngeal inlet, which includes the epiglottis and the paired aryepiglottic folds and arytenoid cartilages. The posterior surface of the arytenoid cartilages and the posterior plate of the cricoid cartilage complete the anteroinferior border of the hypopharynx. Lateral to the arytenoid cartilages, the hypopharynx consists of the paired piriform sinuses, which are bounded laterally by the thyroid cartilage.

For more information about the relevant anatomy, see Throat Anatomy. Also see Mouth Anatomy, Nasal Anatomy, and Pharynx Anatomy.

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