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Palatine Tonsil
Lymphoid System

Palatine Tonsil

Tonsilla palatina

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Quick Facts

Location: Lateral walls of the oropharynx.

Arterial supply: Tonsillar branches of dorsal lingual, facial, and ascending pharyngeal arteries, ascending and lesser palatine arteries.

Venous Drainage: Pterygoid venous plexus.

Innervation: Tonsillar branches of glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX).

Lymphatic drainage: Deep cervical lymph nodes.

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The palatine tonsils are ovoid accumulations of lymphoid tissue that sit in the oropharynx near the posterior aspect of the oral cavity.

Key Features & Anatomical Relations

The palatine tonsils sit in the tonsillar fossa between the palatoglossal and palatopharyngeal arches within the lateral walls of the oropharynx. The glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX) sits lateral to the tonsils and may be affected during swelling following a tonsillectomy.


The palatine tonsils form part of Waldeyer’s ring. This accumulation of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) surrounds the openings of the respiratory and digestive tracts and contributes to the defense against upper respiratory tract and oral cavity infections. The lingual, palatine, pharyngeal, and tubal tonsils all contribute to the formation of this ring of lymphoid tissue.

Arterial Supply

The tonsillar branches of dorsal lingual, facial, and ascending pharyngeal arteries, as well as the ascending and lesser palatine arteries all supply the palatine tonsils.

Venous Drainage

The palatine tonsils are primarily drained by the pterygoid venous plexus.

Nerve Supply

Tonsillar branches of the glossopharyngeal nerve defasciculate to form a plexus of nerves called the tonsillar plexus. The tonsillar plexus can anastomose with fibers of the greater and lesser palatine nerves (Standring, 2016).

Lymphatic Drainage

Lymph drains via the upper deep cervical lymph nodes.

List of Clinical Correlates



Standring, S. (2016) Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice. Gray's Anatomy Series: Elsevier Limited.

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Palatine Tonsil

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The palatine tonsils are located on the lateral wall of the oropharynx and are composed of lymphoid tissue in a fibrous capsule.

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