Larynx: anatomy, location and function

Author: Scott A. Sheffield MS

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The walls of the larynx are made up of image descriptioncartilage, ligaments, image descriptionmembranes, muscles, and respiratory mucosa (or mucous membrane).

A midsagittal view of the larynx
A midsagittal view of the larynx with labels: Cartilage and Ligament
A midsagittal view of the larynx with labels: Membrane, muscle and mucosa
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There are nine (9) laryngeal cartilages, three (3) image descriptionpaired and three (3) image descriptionsingle single. Together, they form a supportive skeletal framework.

A midsagittal view of the laryngeal cartilages
A midsagittal view of the laryngeal cartilages with labels: Cuneiform, Arytenoid, and Corniculate
A midsagittal view of the laryngeal cartilages with labels: Epiglottis, Thyroid, Cricoid
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Several ligaments and membranes loosely hold the cartilages together.

A midsagittal view of the ligaments and membrane
A midsagittal view of the ligaments and membranes labeled: Thyrohyoid and quadrangular membrane
A midsagittal view of the ligaments and membrane labels thyroepiglottic, cricothyroid and cricotracheal ligaments
Swipe to explore the ligaments of the larynx
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Two sets of muscles control larynx movements.

  • Intrinsic muscles regulate the tension and orientation of the vocal ligaments that produce the voice. image descriptionSuperior viewimage descriptionLateral view
  • Extrinsic muscles (not shown) adjust the position of the larynx during the swallowing process.

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A midsagittal view of the ligaments and membrane with label cricothyroid
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Respiratory mucosa (or mucous membrane) covers most of the interior surface of the larynx. It is continuous with the tissues that line the pharynx and serves to further clean, moisten and warm inhaled air.

Location and Functions of the Larynx

The image descriptionlarynx is a short (= 1.5 inch) tube that is located in the throat, inferior to the image descriptionhyoid bone  and image descriptiontongue  and anterior to the image descriptionesophagus.

A midsagittal view of the head and neck
A midsagittal view with label: Larynx
A midsagittal view with label: Hyoid bone
A midsagittal view with label: Tongue
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  • Forming the larynx are nine (9) supportive cartilages, several intrinsic and extrinsic muscles, and a mucous membrane lining.
  • As a primary function, the larynx provides a carefully guarded air passageway (See the GIF below)  between the pharynx and the trachea.

  • During the swallowing process, movements of the cartilages close the entrance to the larynx so food and drink cannot enter.
  • The larynx also houses the vocal folds and ligaments that produce the voice sounds.

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An Overview of the Larynx:

Larynx Cartilages: image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers

Larynx Wall: image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers

Intrinsic Muscles: image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers

Ligaments and Membranes: image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers

Test Yourself on Larynx Cartilages with Answers Hidden
Test Yourself on Larynx Cartilages with Answers Shown
Test Yourself on Larynx Wall with answers hidden
Test Yourself on Larynx Wall with answers shown
Test Yourself on Larynx Wall with answers hidden
Test Yourself on Larynx Wall with answers shown
Test Yourself on ligaments and membranes with answers hidden
Test Yourself on ligaments and membranes with answers shown
Test yourself while observing the Larynx
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An Overview of the Location and Functions of the Larynx:

image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers

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Test yourself with answers shown (larynx, trachea,esophagus, tongue, larynx, trachea, hyoid bone)
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