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Oropharynx

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Definition

noun, plural: oropharynges, oropharynxes

(anatomy) The oral part of the pharynx, located behind the oral cavity


Supplement

The pharynx is the cavity at the back of the mouth. It is located behind the mouth and the nasal cavity the esophagus and the larynx. The human pharynx is comprised of three sections: (1) the nasopharynx, (2) the oropharynx, and (3) the laryngopharynx.

The oropharynx is the oral part of the pharynx, thus the name. Above the oropharynx is the nasopharynx and below it is the laryngopharynx. The soft palate separates the oropharynx from the nasopharynx. It also lies at the back of the mouth, and extends from the uvula to the level of the hyoid bone. Its function is to serve as a passageway for air that travels through the trachea and into the lungs, and for food and water into the alimentary canal. It is also involved in reflex functions such as sneezing, coughing, and vomiting. It is associated with speech resonance, deglutition, and mucus drainage from nasopharynx.

Some of the members of the normal flora of the oropharynx include Haemophilus, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Cardiobacterium hominis, Eikenella corrodens, and Kingellaspecies, collectively referred to as the HACEK.


Word origin: Greek óros( “mountain, high ground”) + Greek phárunx (“throat”)

Variant(s):

  • oro-pharynx

Also called:

  • oral pharynx

See also:

Related form(s):

  • oropharyngeal (adjective)

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