Posterior cricoarytenoid muscle

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Posterior cricoarytenoid
Muscles of larynx. Side view. Right lamina of thyroid cartilage removed.
Originposterior part of the cricoid
Insertionposterior surface of muscular process of the arytenoid cartilage
Nerverecurrent laryngeal nerve branch of the vagus
Actionsabducts and laterally rotates the cartilage, pulling the vocal ligaments away from the midline and forward and so opening the rima glottidis
AntagonistLateral cricoarytenoid muscle
LatinMusculus cricoarytaenoideus posterior
Anatomical terms of muscle

The posterior cricoarytenoid muscles are small, paired intrinsic muscles of the larynx that extend between cricoid cartilage to the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx.


Origin and Insertion[edit]

The posterior cricoarytenoid originates from the posterior surface of the posterior quadrate lamina of the cricoid cartilage. It inserts onto the posterior surface of the muscular process of the arytenoid cartilage.

Nerve supply[edit]

The posterior cricoarytenoid muscles are innervated by the recurrent laryngeal nerve, a branch of the vagus nerve (CN X).


The posterior 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]


  1. ^ 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]