Anatomy of Tongue : Mnemonics


Alter the shape of tongueAttaches tongue to the bone
Mnemonic: VISTMnemonic: Paris St. German Hour
1. Vertical1. Palatoglossus (Palate) – anatomically a pharyngeal muscle
2. Inferior longitudinal2. Styloglossus (Styloid)
3. Superior longitudinal3. Genioglossus (Genial tubercle of mandible)
4. Transverse4. Hyoglossus (Hyoid)
tongue muscles
OpenStax, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

All the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles are supplied by hypoglossal nerve (CN XII) except Palatoglossus which is supplied by the pharyngeal plexus (CN IX, CN X and sympathetics).

Genioglossus protrude tongue and if paralyzed will fall back on the oropharynx and block the air passage.

Sensory nerve supply
Nerve supplyAnterior 2/3Posterior 1/3Posterior-most (Vallecula)
SensoryLingual (CN V3)CN IXCN X (Internal laryngeal)
TasteChorda tympani (CN VII)CN IXCN X (Internal laryngeal)
Development of epithelium1st arch3rd arch4th arch
Vallate papillae is supplied by CN IX


  • Anterior 2/3 has 2 nerve supplies
  • Posterior 1/3 has 1 nerve supply
    • Mirror image of “P” resembles “9”
tongue taste modalities

Lymphatic drainage

All parts have Bilateral drainage except Lateral portions of Anterior 2/3 of tongue.

  1. Tip: Bilateral submental lymph nodes
  2. Anterior 2/3:
    • Lateral: Ipsilateral submandibular lymph nodes
    • Central: Bilateral inferior deep cervical lymph nodes (Jugulo-omohyoid)
  3. Posterior 1/3: Bilateral superior deep cervical lymph nodes (Jugulo-digastric)

Final drainage: Jugulo-omohyoid nodes (known as lymph nodes of tongue)

Blood supply

Arterial supply: Lingual artery (branch of ECA)

Venous drainage: Lingual vein (drains into IJV)

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