Larynx Anatomy

Larynx Anatomy

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The Larynx

The larynx is a spindle-shaped organ that extends from the base of the tongue to the trachea. It is composed of several layers of cartilage that form a protective cage and play an essential role in the production of sound. The larynx is connected to the other parts of the respiratory system via the trachea, bronchi, and lungs. It also has many glands and muscles, which help in maintaining its structure and functioning. All of these components work together to make up the larynx.

Laryngeal Cartilages

The larynx is composed of several cartilages that work together to keep the larynx functioning. These cartilages include the epiglottis, thyroid cartilage, cricoid cartilage, arytenoid cartilages, and cuneiform cartilages. The epiglottis covers the glottis during swallowing, preventing food and fluids from entering the airway. The thyroid cartilage is a horseshoe-shaped structure that forms the anterior and lateral walls of the larynx. The cricoid cartilage is the most inferior cartilage and acts as the posterior support for the larynx. The arytenoid cartilages, which are small and paired, are located at the posteromedial aspect of the larynx and validate the shape of the vocal folds. Finally, the cuneiform cartilages are small, pyramid-shaped cartilages located in the aryepiglottic folds.

Laryngeal Ligaments and Folds

The larynx is supported by several ligaments and folds that help maintain its structure and function. The vocal ligaments are located at the posterior aspect of the larynx and stretch across the vocal cords. These ligaments allow the vocal cords to vibrate and produce sound. Other ligaments such as thyrohyoid ligament, thyroepiglottic ligament, and quadrangular membrane help support the larynx. The folds of the larynx include the false vocal folds, ventricular folds, and the true vocal folds. The false vocal folds are also known as the vestibular, or ventricular, folds and are located superior to the true vocal folds. The ventricular folds are made of both soft tissue and cartilage and help to protect the true vocal folds. Finally, the true vocal folds are the actual vocal cords made of mucous membrane and muscles. This is where the sound for speaking and singing is produced.

Laryngeal Muscles

The larynx also contains several muscles that work together to keep it functioning. These muscles include the thyroarytenoid muscle, cricothyroid muscle, thyropharyngeal muscle, cricopharyngeal muscle, and aryepiglottic muscle. The thyroarytenoid muscle, also known as the vocalis muscle, is the muscle primarily responsible for vocal fold adduction. It is located between the vocal folds and is controlled by the vocal branch of the recurrent laryngeal nerve. The cricothyroid muscle is responsible for raising the pitch of the voice by stretching the vocal cords. The thyropharyngeal muscle is located between the thyroid cartilage and the pharynx and helps to open the larynx, aiding in the passage of food and liquids. The cricopharyngeal muscle is located at the posterior aspect of the larynx and aids in swallowing. Finally, the aryepiglottic muscle is located between the arytenoid cartilages and the epiglottis and helps in elevating the epiglottis during swallowing.

The larynx is a complex organ composed of several components that work together to maintain its structure and functioning. Its cartilages, ligaments, and muscles all play an essential role in its ability to produce sound. Knowing the anatomy of the larynx is important for those who wish to understand how the larynx works and is essential for those in the medical field.

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