Anatomical hierarchy

Deep spaces of face and neck > Mucosal pharyngeal space



The pharyngeal mucosal space consists of the mucosa and structures deep to the mucosa of the nasopharynx, the oropharynx, and the laryngopharynx. It is the most internal compartment (closest to the airway) of the seven deep compartments of the head and neck, delineated by the middle (pretracheal) layer of deep cervical fascia. It extends from the base of the skull to the cricoid cartilage.



  • squamous mucosa
  • lymphoid tissue belonging to the pharyngeal lymphoid ring (Waldeyer's ring)
  • minor salivary glands
  • cartilaginous portion of the Eustachean tube
  • superior pharyngeal constrictor
  • middle pharyngeal constrictor
  • levator palatine



  • medial to the parapharyngeal space
  • anterior to the retropharyngeal space



The pharyngeal mucosal space is internal to the middle layer of deep cervical fascia:

  • superior margin: merging of the middle layer of deep cervical fascia with the aponeurosis of the superior pharyngeal constrictor muscle
  • inferior margin: cricoid cartilage


Related pathology


  • Tornwaldt cyst
  • benign minor salivary gland pathology
  • nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • adenoid cystic carcinoma
  • lymphoma
  • minor salivary gland tumours
  • juvenile angiofibroma
  • tonsillitis
  • peritonsillar abscess

Harnsberger HR, Glastonbury CM, Michel MA et-al. Diagnostic Imaging: Head and Neck. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. (2010) ISBN:1931884781
Imaging of the Head and Neck. Thieme. (2012) ISBN:3131505311.
Gray's Anatomy (20th U.S. edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, published in 1918)


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