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Pharyngeal Tonsil
Lymphoid System

Pharyngeal Tonsil

Tonsilla pharyngea

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Quick Facts

Location: Roof of the nasopharynx.

Arterial supply: Ascending pharyngeal artery.

Venous Drainage: Pharyngeal venous plexus.

Innervation: Maxillary branch of trigeminal nerve (CN V2) and pharyngeal branches of the glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX).

Lymphatic drainage: Deep cervical lymph nodes.

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The pharyngeal tonsils are an accumulation of lymphoid tissue similar in composition to the palatine tonsils.

Key Features & Anatomical Relations

The pharyngeal tonsils sit in the roof and posterior wall of the nasopharynx, inferior to the base of the skull.


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 ascending pharyngeal artery, as well as the tonsillar and pharyngeal branches of the facial and maxillary arteries may all contribute to the vasculature supply of the pharyngeal tonsils.

Venous Drainage

Venous drainage occurs via the pharyngeal plexus, which in turn drains into the facial vein.

Nerve Supply

General sensation is achieved by branches of the maxillary nerve and from the branches of the glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX).

Lymphatic Drainage

Lymph drains via the upper deep cervical lymph nodes.

List of Clinical Correlates


Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products


ScienceDirect image

Enlarged adenoids may obstruct the orifice of the eustachian tube in the posterior portion of the nasopharynx and interfere with adequate ventilation and drainage of the middle ear.

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