The larynx is an organ in the neck associated in breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea versus food aspiration.

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Key Points

In adult humans, the larynx is discovered in the anterior neck at the level the the C3–C6 vertebrae and also consists of ripe cartilages: three solitary (epiglottic, thyroid, and cricoid) and also three combine (arytenoid, corniculate, and cuneiform). Its interior deserve to be separated in supraglottis, glottis, and subglottis. The larynx dwellings the vocal folds—commonly however improperly the vocal cords. Lock are positioned just listed below where the tract of the pharynx splits into the trachea and the esophagus; lock are crucial for phonation. The vocal folds space closed with each other by adducting the arytenoid cartilages, so the they vibrate (see phonation). The vocal wrinkle are regulated by the activity of the vagus nerve. The larynx closes and also rises during swallowing to relocate the epiglottis over the trachea. The larynx closes throughout a coughing reflex to protect the lung from inhaling miscellaneous that can damage it, and also to remove foreign material native the trachea and lungs.

Key Terms

vocal cords: 2 folds that tissue located in the larynx the vibrate when air passes end them, producing the sound waves associated with talking and also singing. cough reflex: This occurs once the larynx closes together it forces air out of the lung to safeguard the lung from aspirated materials. larynges: component of the respiratory tract in between the pharynx and the trachea, having walls that cartilage and muscle and also containing the vocal cords sheathe in wrinkle of mucous membrane.

The larynx (plural: larynges), commonly called the voice box, is an organ in the neck of humans and most animals that is connected in breathing, sound production, coughing, and also protecting the trachea against food aspiration during eating.


External check out of the larynx: This figure is a thorough view that the external aspect of the larynx.

Anatomy the the Larynx

In adult humans, the larynx is uncovered in the anterior neck in ~ the level the the C3–C6 vertebrae in the backbone. The connects the inferior part of the pharynx (laryngopharynx) v the trachea. The laryngeal skeleton is composed of three single cartilages (thyroid, epiglottic, and also cricoid).

The thyroid cartilage is specifically notable for developing the Adam’s apple, the visible bulge do by the larynx as soon as looking at the throat, and also protects the larynx from injury. The epiglottic cartilage is the body of the epiglottis itself the connects come the larynx indigenous above. The cricoid cartilage connect the larynx come the trachea indigenous below.

There are likewise three sets of cartilages that space paired top top either side of the larynx (arytenoid, corniculate, and also cuneiform) that allow the place of the larynx to move during voice production.

The larynx connects to the hyoid bone (the bone that forms the floor of the mouth) native above. The larynx extend vertically indigenous the pointer of the epiglottis come the border of the cricoid cartilage the marks the formal start of the trachea.

The internal of the larynx is composed of 3 regions, the supraglottis, glottis, and also subglottis. The glottis is the midsection that includes the vocal wrinkle (folds the muscular epithelium ), if the supraglottis and subglottis are the areas of the larynx the are above and listed below the glottis respectively. In newborn infants, the larynx is at first at the level of the C2–C3 vertebrae, however descends together the kid grows.

The glottis consists of 2 pairs of mucosal folds. These folds room false vocal crease (vestibular folds) and true vocal folds (folds). The false vocal folds space covered by respiratory tract epithelium, when the true vocal folds are covered by stratified squamous epithelium.

The false vocal folds are not responsible because that sound production, but rather for resonance. These false vocal folds execute not save on computer muscle, when the true vocal crease do have skeletal muscle. The 2 sets of folds space separated through the vocal ligament, through the false vocal folds above, and also the true vocal cords listed below the ligament. The true vocal folds are frequently referred to together the vocal cords, yet the wrinkle technically aren’t cords.

Physiology of the Larynx

The many notable and unique function of the larynx is phonation (voice production). The vocal folds of the larynx have actually two positions, open and also closed. During breathing the folds remain open, yet they close during swallowing or phonation.

When wait from the lungs passes v closed folds during exhalation, the crease vibrate and also create sound. The pitch developed depends on the length and tightness the the vocal folds.

The vagus nerves innervate the larynx and signal the muscles and also paired cartilage (the arytenoid) of the larynx to job-related together come open and close the vocal folds too as adjust their length and tension to alter pitch. Much longer vocal folds have a reduced pitch, which is part of the factor why men have actually deeper voices compared to women, because their larger larynxes have longer vocal folds.

Besides phonation, there space a few other vital functions that the larynx. The crease of the larynx close and also move upwards during swallowing, which reasons the epiglottis come close off the trachea. This helps protect against aspiration the food right into the lung or choking native a blockage that food in the trachea.

The larynx closes off during coughing to help prevent harmful gasses indigenous entering the lungs. Throughout a cough reflex, waiting is compelled out of the lungs, which deserve to remove built up mucus, fluid, or blood from the lungs during injury, infection, or cancer the the lungs, as well as food or objects in the trachea throughout choking.

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Finally, the larynx deserve to be signaled to open up its folds broader than usual to rise the flow of waiting into and also out that the lungs during heavy breathing once the human body requires much more oxygen.

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