Internal laryngeal nerve

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Internal laryngeal nerve
Course and distribution of the glossopharyngeal, vagus, and accessory nerves. (Internal branch of superior laryngeal labeled at center right.)
From superior laryngeal nerve
Latin ramus internus nervi laryngei superioris
TA A14.2.01.162
FMA 6240
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The internal laryngeal nerve is the internal branch (ramus internus) of the superior laryngeal nerve. It descends to the thyrohyoid membrane, piercing it in company with the superior laryngeal artery, and is distributed to the mucous membrane of the larynx.

Of these (sensory) branches, some are distributed to the epiglottis, the base of the tongue, and the epiglottic glands; others pass posteriorly, in the aryepiglottic fold, to supply the mucous membrane surrounding the entrance of the larynx, and the mucous lining of the larynx as inferior as the vocal folds.

A filament descends beneath the mucous membrane on the inner surface of the thyroid cartilage and joins the recurrent nerve.

Above the vocal folds the sensory innervation of the larynx is via the internal laryngeal nerve. Below the vocal folds it is by way of branches of the recurrent laryngeal nerve. The vocal fold itself receives dual innervation from both nerves.


Irritation of the internal laryngeal nerve results in uncontrolled coughing - usually as a result of food or water in the laryngopharynx.

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