Retropharyngeal space

Retropharyngeal space

Retropharyngeal space
Section of the neck at about the level of the sixth cervical vertebra. Showing the arrangement of the deep cervical fascia
Latin Spatium retropharyngeum
Gray's p.390
Anatomical terminology

The retropharyngeal space is a potential space of the head and neck, bounded by the buccopharyngeal fascia anteriorly and the prevertebral fascia posteriorly. Together with the lateral pharyngeal space, these spaces are termed the parapharyngeal spaces.[1]

It contains the retropharyngeal lymph nodes.[2]

Because serious infections of teeth can spread down this space into the posterior mediastinum, it is often confused with the danger space. The danger space is actually between the alar fascia and the prevertebral fascia and extends from the cranial base above to the level of the diaphragm.


  • Clinical significance 1
  • Relations 2
  • Additional images 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Clinical significance

A midline raphe is present in this space making some infections appear unilateral. However without treatment infections can easily spread from one space to the adjacent space.

If more than half of the size of the C2 vertebra, it may indicate retropharyngeal abscess.[3]


It is limited above by the base of the skull, and below where the alar fascia fuses with the buccopharyngeal fascia at about the level of T4 and the carina.

Relations of the retropharyngeal space:

Additional images


  1. ^ Berman, editors, Kenneth M. Hargreaves, Stephen Cohen ; web editor, Louis H. (2010). Cohen's pathways of the pulp (10th ed. ed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby Elsevier. p. 593.  
  2. ^ Chong VF, Fan YF (October 2000). "Radiology of the retropharyngeal space". Clin Radiol 55 (10): 740–8.  
  3. ^ Gary Frank; Samir S Shah; Marina Catallozzi; Lisa B Zaoutis (1 June 2005). The Philadelphia guide: inpatient pediatrics. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 181–.  
  4. ^ Ozlugedik S, Ibrahim Acar H, Apaydin N, et al. (October 2005). "Retropharyngeal space and lymph nodes: an anatomical guide for surgical dissection".  

This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.

External links

  • Anatomy figure: 31:01-04 at Human Anatomy Online, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • MedEd at Loyola Radio/curriculum/Bones/Image476a.jpg