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HNO. 2014 May;62(5):385-92; quiz 393-4. doi: 10.1007/s00106-014-2845-1.

[Anatomy of the upper esophageal sphincter].

[Article in German]

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Phoniatrie und Pädaudiologie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, 30625, Hannover, Deutschland,


The upper esophageal sphincter (UES) forms a barrier between the pharynx and the esophagus. When closed, the barrier function serves to prevent reflux and aerophagia; when open, swallowing, belching and vomiting are possible. The closing muscles include caudal parts of the inferior pharyngeal sphincter and cranial parts of the upper esophagus musculature. Sphincter opening is achieved by muscles that insert from the outside to connect to the larynx and pharynx in the sphincter region. The closing muscles are innervated by branches of the glossopharyngeal and vagal nerves, and central control is probably mediated by several reflexes. This article presents an overview of the current understanding of the complex UES anatomy.

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