The larynx is the point in the throat where air and food entering the oral cavity or nasal cavity is diverted into either the trachea or the esophagus. Therefore, the larynx provides several important functions. It controls the airway during breathing, it protects the airway and it produces sound. The larynx consists of a shell of cartilage and its ligamentous attachments. In the center of the larynx is the vocal cords. The vocal cords are made of muscles covered by mucosa. They are attached to the arytenoid cartilage. The arytenoid cartilage and vocal cords are open during breathing. Damage to the arytenoid cartilage can interfere with breathing, speech and protection of the airway.
Causes of Arytenoid Cartilage Injury
Trauma is the leading cause of arytenoid injury. It can be external, blunt trauma or internal trauma. Internal trauma is most commonly seen with endotracheal intubation for anesthesia. Arthritis changes may affect the arytenoid cartilage.
Signs and Symptoms of Arytenoid Cartilage Injury
Damage to the arytenoid cartilage may also damage the muscles that attach there, namely the cricoarytenoid muscles and thyroarytenoid muscles. These structures are all important in controlling the airway and in tensing or relaxing the vocal cords. Damage to any of them can lead to hoarseness, cough, stridor (difficulty breathing due to obstruction of the airway) and aspiration.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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