Branchial Arches Mnemonics usmle step 1

Branchial Arches

Branchial Arches Mnemonics usmle step 1

A lot of people, myself included, have trouble memorizing the development of the branchial apparatus. Hopefully with these mnemonics, this process will be much easier for you. It definitely helped me. Along with congenital heart disease, this seems to be the highest yield topic in Embryology for the USMLE Step 1.

1st Arch: a Massive list of M’s

Nerve: Maxillary and Mandibular nerves

Artery: Maxillary artery

Cartilage: Meckel’s Cartilage
Mandible + sphenoMandibular ligament
Malleus + Incus

Muscles: MAT x 2
– Muscles of Mastication
Anterior belly of digastric
Anterior 2/3 of tongue
– Tensor veli palatini
Tensor tympani


PS: for every one you get right reward yourself with an M&M  😀

2nd arch: Second

Nerve: Seventh nerve (facial nerve)

Artery: Stapedial artery and hyoid artery

Stylohyoid ligament
– leSSer horn of hyoid

– Muscles of facial expression (Smiling)
– poSSSterior belly of digastric

3rd arch: think Glossopharyngeal nerve
Glossopharyngeal nerve

Greater horn of hyoid

– Stylopharyngeus

4th Arch: Swallowing + The exceptions to the 6th arch below

Nerve: Superior Laryngeal (branch of vagus)

– Thyroid cartilage

– Pharyngeal constrictors
– Levator veli palatini
– Cricothyroid

6th Arch: Speaking (Laryngeal)

Nerve: Recurrent laryngeal (branch of vagus)

Cartilage: All laryngeal cartilages except thyroid cartilage

Muscles:  All instrinsic laryngeal muscles except cricothyroid

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