Posterior cricoarytenoid muscle

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Posterior cricoarytenoid
Muscles of larynx. Side view. Right lamina of thyroid cartilage removed.
Latin Musculus cricoarytaenoideus posterior
Gray's p.1082
Origin posterior part of the cricoid
Insertion muscular process of the arytenoid cartilage
Nerve recurrent laryngeal branch of the vagus
Actions abducts and laterally rotates the cartilage, pulling the vocal ligaments away from the midline and forward and so opening the rima glottidis
Antagonist Lateral cricoarytenoid muscle
Anatomical terms of muscle

The posterior cricoarytenoid muscles are extremely small, paired muscles that extend from the posterior cricoid cartilage to the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx.



The posterior cricoarytenoid muscles receive innervation from the recurrent laryngeal branch of the vagus nerve.[1] :10


The cricoarytenoid muscles are the only muscles to open the vocal cords. By rotating the arytenoid cartilages laterally, these muscles abduct the vocal cords and thereby open the rima glottidis.[1] :9 Their action opposes the lateral cricoarytenoid muscles.

Clinical significance[edit]

Paralysis of the posterior cricoarytenoid muscles may lead to asphyxiation as they are the only laryngeal muscles to open the true vocal folds, allowing inspiration and expiration.[2]

Additional images[edit]

See also[edit]

This article uses anatomical terminology; for an overview, see anatomical terminology.


  1. ^ a b Hydman, Jonas (2008). Recurrent laryngeal nerve injury. Stockholm. ISBN 978-91-7409-123-6. 
  2. ^ The Arytenoid Cartilages - a clinical overview. 2002, Dr. C Kay et al. Thorne Publishing (C)

External links[edit]