Stylopharyngeus muscle

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Stylopharyngeus muscle
Muscles of the pharynx and cheek. (Stylopharyngeus visible at center left.)
Origin Styloid process (temporal)
Insertion thyroid cartilage (larynx)
Nerve glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX)
Actions elevate the larynx, elevate the pharynx, swallowing
Latin musculus stylopharyngeus
MeSH D010609
TA A05.3.01.114
FMA 46664
Anatomical terms of muscle

The stylopharyngeus is a muscle in the head that stretches between the temporal styloid process and the pharynx.


The stylopharyngeus is a long, slender muscle, cylindrical above, flattened below. It arises from the medial side of the base of the temporal styloid process, passes downward along the side of the pharynx between the superior pharyngeal constrictor and the middle pharyngeal constrictor, and spreads out beneath the mucous membrane.

Some of its fibers are lost in the constrictor muscles while others, joining the palatopharyngeus muscle, are inserted into the posterior border of the thyroid cartilage.

The glossopharyngeal nerve runs on the lateral side of this muscle, and crosses over it to reach the tongue.

Nerve supply[edit]

Stylopharyngeus is the only muscle in the pharynx innervated by the glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX) and is done by its single motor branch, which supplies special visceral efferent (SVE) fibers to it.


Embryological origin is the third pharyngeal arch


The stylopharyngeus:

  • elevates the larynx
  • elevates the pharynx
  • dilates the pharynx to permit the passage of a large food bolus, thereby facilitating swallowing

See also[edit]

Additional images[edit]


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 1143 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)