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Retropharyngeal Nodes
Lymphoid System

Retropharyngeal Nodes

Nodi retropharyngei

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Quick Facts

Location: Posterior to the pharynx, in three lines; one medial line and two lateral lines.

Drainage: Nasal and oropharyngeal areas.

Direction of Flow: Uppermost nodes in the lateral internal jugular chain > jugular trunk > thoracic duct (left) or right lymphatic duct.

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Related parts of the anatomy


The retropharyngeal nodes are organized in medial and lateral territories posterior to the pharyngeal constrictor muscles. These nodes are highly variable in their presentation with medial nodes only present in 20% of the population and the lateral nodes are often present only unilaterally (Földi et al., 2012).

The retropharyngeal nodes receive afferents from the nasal sinuses, paranasal sinuses, soft palate, palatine arch, auditory tube, and middle ear.

Drainage from these nodes is crosses over the carotid sheath and neurovascular bundle to connect with the most superior nodes of the lateral jugular chain.

List of Clinical Correlates

—Metastatic deposits from malignancies of the nasopharynx, pharyngeal wall, and oropharynx, including tonsillar fossa and soft palate


Földi, M., Földi, E., Strößenreuther, R. and Kubik, S. (2012) Földi's Textbook of Lymphology: for Physicians and Lymphedema Therapists. Elsevier Health Sciences.

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