Anatomic Relationships

Two major cervical lymph node chains enter the retropharyngeal space. They drain lymph not only from the nasopharynx but also the adenoids and the posterior paranasal sinuses. The retropharyngeal space is the potential space located between the posterior pharyngeal wall (more properly the buccopharyngeal fascia) and the prevertebral fascia. It extends from the base of the skull to the level of T1 or T2 in the area of the posterior mediastinum. It is the only deep neck space that extends the entire length of the neck. Anatomists believe that it may actually be in continuity with the prevertebral space, which extends to the level of the psoas muscle. For this reason or due to erosion through the prevertebral fascia, infections in the retropharyngeal space are known to have extended this entire length.

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