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Laryngopharynx vs. Hypopharynx — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 28, 2024
Laryngopharynx refers to the lower part of the pharynx, encompassing the area around the larynx; the hypopharynx, on the other hand, is its lowermost section, below the epiglottis.
Laryngopharynx vs. Hypopharynx — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Laryngopharynx and Hypopharynx


Key Differences

The laryngopharynx, also known as the hypopharynx, is part of the pharynx located at the bottom, behind the larynx, while the term hypopharynx specifically refers to the lower part of this region, situated below the oropharynx and surrounding the larynx.
The laryngopharynx serves as a passageway for food and air, directing food to the esophagus and air to the larynx, whereas the hypopharynx primarily functions in the passage of food from the oropharynx to the esophagus.
The laryngopharynx includes structures such as the posterior pharyngeal wall and the entrance to the esophagus, whereas the hypopharynx is specifically concerned with the area around the laryngeal inlet.
Disorders affecting the laryngopharynx can impact breathing and swallowing, on the other hand, conditions affecting the hypopharynx are more likely to influence swallowing and potentially voice, due to its proximity to the larynx.
Both the laryngopharynx and hypopharynx are examined using methods like endoscopy; however, issues in the hypopharynx may require more specialized investigations due to its involvement with the larynx.

Comparison Chart


Lower part of the pharynx, behind the larynx
Lowermost part of the pharynx


Passage for both food to the esophagus and air to larynx
Primarily guides food from the oropharynx to the esophagus

Associated Structures

Posterior pharyngeal wall, laryngeal inlet
Laryngeal inlet, surrounding area

Common Disorders

Breathing and swallowing disorders
Swallowing disorders, potential voice issues

Diagnostic Methods

Endoscopy, imaging
Specialized endoscopic evaluations

Compare with Definitions


A passage for air and food, connecting to the esophagus and larynx.
The laryngopharynx must function properly for effective swallowing.


Close to the larynx, affecting voice when disorders arise.
Swelling in the hypopharynx may alter voice quality.


The lower section of the pharynx surrounding the larynx.
The laryngopharynx is visualized during a throat examination.


Can be a site for specific types of cancers.
Hypopharyngeal cancer is treated with a combination of surgery and radiation.


Area susceptible to infections and disorders affecting breathing and swallowing.
Inflammation in the laryngopharynx can lead to serious health issues.


The lowermost part of the pharynx, below the oropharynx.
Cancer in the hypopharynx requires immediate attention.


Assessed using tools like endoscopes.
Doctors use endoscopy to check for abnormalities in the laryngopharynx.


Primarily involved in the passage of food to the esophagus.
Blockage in the hypopharynx can disrupt normal swallowing.


Important in both the respiratory and digestive systems.
The laryngopharynx plays a critical role in guiding both air and food.


Requires specialized diagnostic procedures due to its location.
Specialized scans are often used to diagnose issues in the hypopharynx.


The portion of the pharynx just above the larynx. Also called hypopharynx.


The tonguelike structure in front of or above the labium in the mouth of an insect.


(anatomy) The part of the pharynx below and behind the larynx


See laryngopharynx.


The lower part of the pharynx


(anatomy) bottom part of the pharynx, the part of the throat that connects to the esophagus


An appendage or fold on the lower side of the pharynx, in certain insects.

Common Curiosities

What is the primary function of the laryngopharynx?

Its primary function is to direct food towards the esophagus and air towards the larynx.

Are the laryngopharynx and hypopharynx part of the same structure?

Yes, the hypopharynx is a part of the laryngopharynx, specifically its lowermost section.

What is the laryngopharynx?

It is the lower part of the pharynx that surrounds the larynx, involved in both respiratory and digestive functions.

What disorders typically affect the hypopharynx?

Disorders like cancers, infections, and swallowing difficulties are common.

Where is the hypopharynx located?

It is located below the oropharynx, around the laryngeal inlet.

What symptoms might indicate a problem in the laryngopharynx?

Symptoms include difficulty swallowing, pain, and sometimes changes in voice.

Is cancer common in the laryngopharynx?

It is less common than in other parts of the body but can occur, particularly in smokers.

How are diseases in the laryngopharynx diagnosed?

Through endoscopy and various imaging techniques.

Can problems in the hypopharynx affect breathing?

While primarily affecting swallowing, severe issues can also impact breathing.

What are common treatments for hypopharyngeal disorders?

Treatments can include surgery, radiation, and medication.

How is the hypopharynx accessed for medical examination?

It is accessed via endoscopy, often requiring specialized techniques due to its location.

How does the function of the laryngopharynx differ from that of the oropharynx?

The laryngopharynx handles the passage to both the respiratory and digestive tracts, whereas the oropharynx is mainly involved in initiating swallowing.

Are there any specific tests for the hypopharynx?

Yes, tests may include specialized endoscopic procedures and imaging tests.

What preventive measures can protect the hypopharynx?

Avoiding irritants like tobacco and alcohol, and maintaining good hydration.

Can issues in the laryngopharynx lead to emergency situations?

Yes, especially if swelling or blockages interfere with breathing.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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