J Korean Dysphagia Soc.  2012 Jul;2(2):35-42.

Physiology of Upper Esophageal Sphincter Contraction

  • 1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, CHA Bundang Medical Center, CHA University, Seongnam, Korea


Upper esophageal sphincter is defined as the intra-luminal high-pressure zone separating the pharynx from the esophagus. This region is consisted of inferior pharyngeal constrictor, cricopharyngeus muscle and cranial cervical esophagus. The primary function of upper esophageal sphincter is to transmit bolus from pharynx to esophagus. Cricopharyngeus muscle is the most important muscle in upper esophageal sphincter. This muscle responds differently in diverse circumferences. It is necessary to know normal anatomy and physiology of upper esophageal sphincter to understand normal function of upper esophageal sphincter. In addition, to know normal function is prerequisite to know abnormal findings of this region. So I will review the normal anatomy and physiology of upper esophageal sphincter. I think this topic is important for doctors and therapists who want to investigate and practice dysphagia.


Dysphagia; Upper esophageal sphincter; Anatomy; Physiology
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