Pharyngeal pouch (embryology)

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Pharyngeal pouch
Pattern of the branchial arches. I-IV branchial arches, 1-4 pharyngeal pouches (inside) and/or pharyngeal grooves (outside)
a Tuberculum laterale
b Tuberculum impar
c Foramen cecum
d Ductus thyreoglossus
e Sinus cervicalis
Floor of pharynx of human embryo about twenty-six days old.
Latin sacci pharyngei
Carnegie stage 10
Gray's p.65
Code TE E5.
Anatomical terminology

In the embryonic development of vertebrates, pharyngeal pouches form on the endodermal side between the pharyngeal arches. The pharyngeal grooves (or clefts) form the lateral ectodermal surface of the neck region to separate the arches.

The pouches line up with the clefts,[1] and these thin segments become gills in fish.

Specific pouches[edit]

First pouch[edit]

The endoderm lines the future auditory tube (Pharyngotympanic Eustachian tube), middle ear, mastoid antrum, and inner layer of the tympanic membrane.

Second pouch[edit]

Third pouch[edit]

  • The third pouch possesses Dorsal and Ventral wings. Derivatives of the dorsal wings include the inferior parathyroid glands, while the ventral wings fuse to form the cytoreticular cells of the thymus. The main nerve supply to the derivatives of this pouch is Cranial Nerve IX, glossopharyngeal nerve.

Fourth pouch[edit]

Derivatives include:

Fifth pouch[edit]

  • Rudimentary structure, becomes part of the fourth pouch contributing to thyroid C-cells.[2]

Sixth pouch[edit]

  • The sixth pouch does not exist. The fourth and sixth arches contribute to the formation of the musculature and cartilage of the larynx.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "pharyngeal pouch" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ Endocrine Glands
  3. ^ Carlson, Bruce (2004). Human Embryology and Developmental Biology. Elsevier Mosby. ISBN 978-0-323-03649-8. 

External links[edit]