Pharyngeal Swallowing: Transport and Protection The most complex all-or-none reflex elicited from the pharyngeal region is pharyngeal swallowing. While swallowing can be elicited without previous oral preparation, the normal functional sequence involves initial food intake, such as incising hard food or sipping liquid, masticating or chewing food to a smaller size or bolus, and ... Article
Article  |   March 01, 2001
Pharyngeal Swallowing: Transport and Protection
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Arthur J. Miller
    Department of Growth and Development, School of Dentistry, University of California at San Francisco
Article Information
Articles
Article   |   March 01, 2001
Pharyngeal Swallowing: Transport and Protection
SIG 13 Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia), March 2001, Vol. 10, 7-9. doi:10.1044/sasd10.1.7
SIG 13 Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia), March 2001, Vol. 10, 7-9. doi:10.1044/sasd10.1.7
The most complex all-or-none reflex elicited from the pharyngeal region is pharyngeal swallowing. While swallowing can be elicited without previous oral preparation, the normal functional sequence involves initial food intake, such as incising hard food or sipping liquid, masticating or chewing food to a smaller size or bolus, and then orally transporting the bolus toward the pillars of fauces (the anterior portals of the pharynx). Pharyngeal swallowing involves muscles of the soft palate, tongue, hyoid bone, pharynx, and larynx. The soft palate elevates, the pharyngeal walls appose, the hyoid and larynx elevate, the laryngeal vestibule closes, the epiglottis tilts downward, and the upper esophageal sphincter relaxes and opens (Donner, Bosma, & Robertson, 1985). The extrinsic tongue muscles include the genioglossus. The intrinsic muscles provide the ability to change the shape of the tongue, as in flattening or developing grooves. The tongue changes position by movement of the hyoid bone that involves the supra- and infrahyoid muscles. The pharynx is composed of the superior, middle, and inferior constrictor muscles that overlap to form a continuous sheath of muscles extending from the cranium to the esophagus. The muscles are thin, with their fibers oriented obliquely and inserting into a posterior median raphe (Bosma, Donner, Tanaka, & Robertson, 1986). The posterior pharyngeal wall includes a thin layer of elastic tissue that allows the pharyngeal wall to expand and contract without folding. During pharyngeal swallowing, the lateral and posterior walls of the pharynx move medially and anteriorly, reducing the pharyngeal area during the development of a caudally directed wavelike motion. Three other muscles elevate the pharynx—the stylopharyngeus, salpingopharyngeus, and palatopharyngeus. The muscles involved in pharyngeal swallowing are innervated by several motoneurons in several cranial nerves, including the trigeminal (V), facial (VII), glossopharyngeal (IX), vagal (X), accessory (XI), and hypoglossal nerves (XII).
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