Stylopharyngeus muscle

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

Stylopharyngeus muscle
Muscles of the pharynx and cheek. (Stylopharyngeus visible at center left.)
OriginStyloid process (temporal)
Insertionthyroid cartilage (larynx)
Nerveglossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX)
Actionselevate the larynx, elevate the pharynx, swallowing
Latinmusculus stylopharyngeus
Anatomical terms of muscle


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

The Stylopharyngeus is the only muscle in the pharynx innervated by the glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX) through branchial motor fibers that originate in the rostral part of the nucleus ambiguus.


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

Additional images


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

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