|Front view of neck.|
|Precursor||4th and 6th branchial arch|
The Adam's apple (technically known as the laryngeal prominence) is a feature of the human neck and refers to the lump or protrusion that is formed by the angle of the thyroid cartilage surrounding the larynx.
The structure of the laryngeal prominence forms a bump under the skin. It is larger in adult men, in whom it is usually clearly visible and palpable. In women, the bump is much less visible and is hardly perceived on the upper edge of the thyroid cartilage.
The meeting point of the two portions of the cartilage generally forms an acute angle (of about 90°) in men, while in women, an open arc (of about 120°).
There are two main theories as to the origin of the term' "Adam's apple". The "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" and the 1913 edition of Webster's Dictionary point at an ancient belief that a piece of forbidden fruit was embedded in Adam's throat (the first man, according to Abrahamic religions). However, neither the Bible nor other Judeo-Christian writings mention such story. In fact, the biblical story does not even specify the type of fruit that Adam ate.
Linguist Alexander Gode claimed that the Latin phrase to designate the laryngeal protuberance was very probably translated incorrectly from the beginning. The phrase in Latin was "pomum Adami" (literally: 'Adam's apple'). This, in turn, came from the Hebrew "tappuach ha adam" meaning "male bump". The confusion lies in the fact that in Hebrew language, the proper name "Adam" (אדם) literally means "man", and the late Hebrew word used to refer "bump" is very similar to the word used to refer "apple". Proponents of this version contend that the subsequent phrases in Latin and other Romance languages represent a mistranslation from the beginning.
The medical term "prominentia laryngea" was introduced by the Basle Nomina Anatomica in 1895.
Its development is considered a secondary sexual characteristic of males, that appears as a result of hormonal activity. Its level of development varies between individuals and the widening of that area in the larynx can occur very suddenly and quickly.
The Adam's apple, in conjunction with the thyroid cartilage which forms it, helps to protect the walls and the frontal part of the larynx, including the vocal cords (which are located directly behind it).
Another function of the laryngeal protuberance is related to the deepening of the voice. During adolescence, the thyroid cartilage grows together with the larynx. Consequently, the laryngeal protrusion grows in size mainly in men. Together, a larger soundboard is made up in phonation apparatus, and, as a result, the man gets a deeper tone.
Cosmetic surgery to reduce the size of laryngeal prominence is called chondrolaryngoplasty (thyroid chondroplasty). The surgery is effective and tends to have few complications, and any complications tend to be transient.
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- laryngeal+prominence at eMedicine Dictionary
- lesson11 at The Anatomy Lesson by Wesley Norman (Georgetown University)