Histological examination of specimens from 22 donated elderly cadavers and 15 human fetuses revealed that the cricopharyngeus muscle (CPM) provided (1) posterior circular muscle fibers adjacent to the external aspect of the uppermost esophageal circular muscle and (2) a thin anterior sling connecting to that same muscle. Another thick lateral bundle of longitudinal muscle originated independently from a fascia covering the posterior cricoarytenoideus muscle, extended laterally and posteriorly, and occupied a space after the CPM had disappeared at the anterolateral angle of the esophagus below the cricoid. The thick fascia contained abundant elastic fibers along the internal surface of the pharyngeal constrictors (posteromedial elastic lamina), but was interrupted or discontinued near the cricoid origin of the CPM. As no submucosal smooth muscles or elastic fibers were connected to it, the CPM did not accompany a specific elastic structure at the interface between the pharyngeal and esophageal muscles. In fetuses, the medial half of the CPM was inserted into the cricoid while the lateral half continued to the sternothyroideus muscle or ended at a fascia covering the cricothyroideus. These anterolateral ends provided a mechanical load for longitudinal growth of the pharyngeal constrictors. Consequently, the CPM was unlikely to develop and grow to form the upper esophageal sphincter, and the muscle bundle crossing the lateral aspect of the pharyngo-esophageal junction appeared to have a secondary passive role as a sphincter. This situation contrasts with that of another sphincter in the human body formed from striated muscle. Clin. Anat., 33:782–794, 2020.
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