Jerarquía anatómica

Espacios profundos de la cara y el cuello > Espacio laterofaríngeo



The lateral pharyngeal space is shaped like a cone or a pyramid, inverted with its base at the sphenoid bone, with its apex inferiorly pointing to the greater cornu of the hyoid bone. It occupies  the space between muscles of mastication and the muscles of deglutition. The terme parapharyngeal space is widely used as a synonym of the lateral pharyngeal space, but the definition of the parapharyngeal space remains unclear because:

  • In some sources the lateral pharyngeal space is divided  into 2 parts by the fascial condensation called aponeurosis of Zuckerkandl and Testut, joining the styloid process to the tensor veli palatini. These two compartments are named the pre-styloid and post-styloid compartments but then post-styloid is a synonym of the suprahyoid part of carotid space.
  • In other sources, the parapharyngeal space refers to the continuation of the lateral pharyngeal space and the retropharyngal space.


So here is described the lateral pharyngeal space, excluding the postyloid part of the paraphraryngeal space (so a lesion arising in the lateral pharygneal space space will displace the carotid space posteriorly and/or is completely surrounded by parapharyngeal space fat).


  • fat
  • trigeminal nerve (V)
  • internal maxillary artery
  • ascending pharyngeal artery
  • pterygoid venous plexus only small portion; mainly within masticator space
  • contains no lymph nodes or salivary glands



  • The parapharyngeal space has complex fascial margins, and occupies the space between the muscles of mastication and the muscles of deglutition
  • superior margin: base of skull
  • inferior margin: greater horn of the hyoid bone
  • medial margin: middle (pretracheal) layer of the deep cervical fascia
  • lateral margin: investing fascia of the deep cervical fascia covering the deep lobe of the parotid
  • anterior margin: investing fascia of the deep cervical fascia covering the medial pterygoid muscle
  • posterior margin: prevertebral layer of the deep cervical fascia



  • medial to the masticator space
  • lateral to the pharyngeal mucosal space
  • anterior to the prevertebral space
  • posterior to the medial pterygoid


Related pathology

  • salivary gland tumours
  • lipoma
  • parapharyngeal cellulitis / parapharyngeal abscess
  • trigeminal schwannoma

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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