Anatomy of the tongue

Anatomy of the tongueAnatomical features of the tongue. Functions of the tongue. Blood supply and innervation of the tongue
~ 5 min

The tongue (lingua) is a muscular organ involved in mixing food, the act of swallowing, taste perception and articulation.

Tongue (lingua)
Tongue (lingua)
Tongue (lingua)
Tongue (lingua)

The tongue has the following parts:

1. Apex of the tongue (apex linguae)

Apex of the tongue (apex linguae)
Apex of the tongue (apex linguae)

2. Body of the tongue (corpus linguae)

Body of the tongue (corpus linguae)
Body of the tongue (corpus linguae)

3. Root or base of the tongue (radix linguae) 

Root or base of the tongue (radix linguae)
Root or base of the tongue (radix linguae)

The superior surface of the organ is called from the dorsum of the tongue (dorsum linguae).

Dorsum of the tongue (dorsum linguae)
Dorsum of the tongue (dorsum linguae)

The median sulcus (sulcus medianus linguae) runs along the median line anteroposteriorly.

Median sulcus (sulcus medianus linguae)
Median sulcus (sulcus medianus linguae)

In the thickness of the tongue, this sulcus corresponds to a fibrous plate dividing the tongue into right and left halves.

The median sulcus ends with a foramen caecum (foramen caecum linguae).

Foramen caecum (foramen caecum linguae)
Foramen caecum (foramen caecum linguae)

On the sides of it, there is a terminal sulcus (sulcus terminalis linguae), which is V-shaped. This sulcus is the border between the root and the body of the tongue.

Terminal sulcus (sulcus terminalis linguae)
Terminal sulcus (sulcus terminalis linguae)

The mucous membrane of the tongue has processes covered with epithelium called lingual papillae (papillae linguales). There are no papillae in the root area. In this area, there is a cluster of lymphoid tissue called the lingual tonsil (tonsilla lingualis).

Lingual tonsil (tonsilla lingualis)
Lingual tonsil (tonsilla lingualis)

Humans have four types of papillae:

Filiform papillae (papillae filiformes)

Filiform papillae (papillae filiformes)
Filiform papillae (papillae filiformes)
Filiform papillae (papillae filiformes)
Filiform papillae (papillae filiformes)

Conic papillae (papillae conicae), which cover the anterior two-thirds of the dorsum of the tongue and provide sensitivity to pain, temperature, and touch.

Conic papillae (papillae conicae)
Conic papillae (papillae conicae)
Conic papillae (papillae conicae)
Conic papillae (papillae conicae)

Fungiform papillae (papillae fungiformes), which have a rounded shape and are located mainly on the apex and body of the tongue.

Fungiform papillae (papillae fungiformes)
Fungiform papillae (papillae fungiformes)
Fungiform papillae (papillae fungiformes)
Fungiform papillae (papillae fungiformes)

Vallate papillae (papillae vallatae), which are located on the border between the dorsum and the root of the tongue.

Vallate papillae (papillae vallatae)
Vallate papillae (papillae vallatae)
Vallate papillae (papillae vallatae)
Vallate papillae (papillae vallatae)

They resemble fungiform papillae in shape, but their superior surface is flattened, and there is a narrow deep sulcus around the papilla, into which the ducts of the glands open.

Foliate papillae (papillae foliatae), which lie along the margins of the tongue in the form of folds of the mucous membrane.

Foliate papillae (papillae foliatae)
Foliate papillae (papillae foliatae)
Foliate papillae (papillae foliatae)
Foliate papillae (papillae foliatae)

Several folds form on the inferior surface of the tongue.

Fimbriated fold (plica fimbriata)

Fimbriated fold (plica fimbriata)
Fimbriated fold (plica fimbriata)

Frenulum of the tongue (frenulum linguae)

Frenulum of the tongue (frenulum linguae)
Frenulum of the tongue (frenulum linguae)

Sublingual fold (plica sublingualis)

Sublingual fold (plica sublingualis)
Sublingual fold (plica sublingualis)

On the sides of the frenulum is a paired sublingual caruncle (caruncula sublingualis), on which the excretory ducts of the submandibular and sublingual salivary glands open

Sublingual caruncle (caruncula sublingualis)
Sublingual caruncle (caruncula sublingualis)

The tongue is predominantly composed of transversely striated muscles covered with a mucous membrane on the outside.

Muscles of the tongue

The muscles of the tongue are paired, and they are divided into two groups:

  • Skeletal or extrinsic muscles
  • Proper or intrinsic muscles

The extrinsic muscles of the tongue arise from the bones of the skull and from the hyoid bone and insert deep into the tongue. The contraction of these muscles change the position of the tongue in the oral cavity. These include:

The genioglossus muscle (m. genioglossus), which arises from the mental spine of the mandible. The contraction of this muscle pulls the tongue anteriorly and inferiorly.

Genioglossus muscle (m. genioglossus)
Genioglossus muscle (m. genioglossus)

The hyoglossus muscle (m. hyoglossus), which arises from the greater horn and from the body of the hyoid bone. It pulls the tongue posteriorly and inferiorly.

Hyoglossus muscle (m. hyoglossus)
Hyoglossus muscle (m. hyoglossus)

The styloglossus muscle (m. styloglossus), which arises from the styloid process of the temporal bone and the stylohyoid ligament. It pulls the tongue to the side.

Styloglossus muscle (m. styloglossus)
Styloglossus muscle (m. styloglossus)

The palatoglossus muscle (m. palatoglossus), which is located in the thickness of the eponymous arc. It lifts the root of the tongue.

Palatoglossus muscle (m. palatoglossus)
Palatoglossus muscle (m. palatoglossus)

The intrinsic muscles of the tongue arise and end in the thickness of the tongue. The contraction of these muscles changes the shape of the tongue. The intrinsic muscles include:

The superior longitudinal muscle (m. longitudinalis superior), which is located in the superior parts of the tongue. The contraction of this muscle shortens the tongue and lifts its apex.

Superior longitudinal muscle (m. longitudinalis superior)
Superior longitudinal muscle (m. longitudinalis superior)

The inferior longitudinal muscle (m. longitudinalis inferior), which is located in the inferior parts of the tongue. It also shortens the tongue but lowers its apex.

Inferior longitudinal muscle (m. longitudinalis inferior)
Inferior longitudinal muscle (m. longitudinalis inferior)

The transverse muscle of the tongue (m. transversus linguae) consists of bundles running transversely from the septum of the tongue to its margin. It narrows the tongue and lifts its back.

Transverse muscle of the tongue (m. transversus linguae)
Transverse muscle of the tongue (m. transversus linguae)
Transverse muscle of the tongue (m. transversus linguae)
Transverse muscle of the tongue (m. transversus linguae)

The vertical muscle of the tongue (m. verticalis linguae) is located mainly in the lateral parts of the tongue. It flattens the tongue.

Vertical muscle of the tongue
(m. verticalis linguae)
Vertical muscle of the tongue<br />
(m. verticalis linguae)

Blood supply

A branch of the external carotid artery called the lingual artery (arteria lingualis) supplies the tongue with arterial blood.

Lingual artery (arteria lingualis)
Lingual artery (arteria lingualis)

Venous drainage

The lingual vein (v. lingualis), which ends by the internal jugular vein (v. jugularis interna), drains venous blood from the tongue.

Internal jugular vein (v. jugularis interna)
Internal jugular vein (v. jugularis interna)

Innervation

The sublingual nerve (nervus hypoglossus) provides motor innervation of the muscles of the tongue.

Sublingual nerve (nervus hypoglossus)
Sublingual nerve (nervus hypoglossus)

Sensory innervation of the anterior two-thirds of the tongue is provided by the lingual nerve (n. lingualis), of the posterior third — by the glossopharyngeal nerve (n. glossopharyngeus), of the root of the tongue — by the superior branch of the laryngeal nerve (n. laryngeus superior).

Lingual nerve (n. lingualis)
Lingual nerve (n. lingualis)

The glossopharyngeal nerve (n. glossopharyngeus) provides the posterior third of the tongue with gustatory innervation, while the two anterior thirds are innervated by the chorda tympani (chorda tympani).

Lymphatic drainage

Lymphatic vessels from the tongue are directed to the submandibular, mental, and lateral deep cervical lymph nodes.

Dictionary

Anatomy of the tongue

Tongue
lingua
Apex of the tongue
apex linguae
Body of the tongue
corpus linguae
Root of the tongue
radix linguae
Dorsum of the tongue
dorsum linguae
Papillae of the tongue
papillae linguales
Lingual tonsil
tonsilla lingualis
Filiform papillae
papillae filiformes
Conic papillae
papillae conicae
Fungiform papillae
papillae fungiformes
Vallate papillae
papillae vallatae
Foliate papillae
papillae foliatae
Median sulcus of the tongue
sulcus medianus linguae
Foramen caecum of the tongue
foramen caecum linguae
Genioglossus muscle
m. genioglossus
Hyoglossus muscle
m. hyoglossus
Styloglossus muscle
m. styloglossus
Palatoglossus muscle
m. palatoglossus
Superior longitudinal muscle
m. longitudinalis superior
Inferior longitudinal muscle
m. longitudinalis inferior
Transverse muscle of the tongue
m. transversus linguae
Vertical muscle of the tongue
m. verticalis linguae
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