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Oblique arytenoid muscle: want to learn more about it?

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Oblique arytenoid muscle

Oblique arytenoid muscle (musculus arytenoideus obliquus)

Oblique arytenoid is a paired intrinsic laryngeal muscle. It is found on the anterior aspect of the larynx, cranial to the superior border of the cricoid cartilage. It is the more superficial of the arytenoid muscles, with the transverse arytenoid muscle lying underneath it.

The intrinsic laryngeal muscles are grouped according to their main function. In that manner, the oblique arytenoid muscle, along with the transverse arytenoid and posterior and lateral cricoarytenoid muscles, are grouped together as muscles that alter the position of the vocal cords (adduction and abduction), thus adjusting the dimensions of the rima glottidis. Oblique arytenoid also acts in combination with transverse arytenoid and aryepiglottic to form the sphincter of the laryngeal inlet, preventing food and liquid from passing into the respiratory tract.

In this article, we’ll explore the anatomy, attachments, relations, neurovascular supply and action of the oblique arytenoid muscle.

Key facts about oblique arytenoid muscle
Origin Muscular process of arytenoid cartilage
Insertion Apex of contralateral arytenoid cartilage
Action Adducts arytenoid cartilages,
Acts as a sphincter of the laryngeal inlet
Innervation Recurrent laryngeal nerve (vagus nerve, CN X)
Blood supply Superior and inferior thyroid arteries

Recommended video: Larynx
Cartilages, ligaments, membranes and muscles of the larynx.

Origin and insertion

Oblique arytenoid originates from the posterior aspect of the muscular process of arytenoid cartilage. The muscle extends obliquely towards its superiorly located insertion; the superior pole of the contralateral arytenoid cartilage. Along its path, the oblique arytenoid muscle crosses its pair from the opposite side, forming the letter “X”.

Relations

There are two arytenoid muscles located on the posterior aspect of the larynx; oblique arytenoid and transverse arytenoid, with oblique arytenoid being the more superficial of the two. Some authors consider the transverse and oblique arytenoids to be two parts of the same muscle, calling them the arytenoid or interarytenoid muscle

Upon inserting at the apex of the contralateral arytenoid cartilage, certain fibers of the oblique arytenoid muscle continue around the arytenoid apex and are prolonged into the aryepiglottic fold, forming the aryepiglottic muscle.

Innervation

Oblique arytenoid is innervated by the recurrent laryngeal nerve, a branch of the vagus nerve (CN X)

Blood supply

The oblique arytenoid muscle receives its arterial supply from the laryngeal branches of the superior and inferior thyroid artery; branches of the external carotid artery and the thyrocervical trunk, respectively. Venous blood from the oblique arytenoid muscle is drained into the superior and inferior laryngeal veins, which are tributaries of the internal jugular vein. 

Function

The oblique arytenoid muscle acts to adduct the arytenoid cartilages, bring the arytenoid cartilages closer to the tubercule of epiglottis and it also, through its extended fibers, adducts the aryepiglottic folds. Thus, this muscle functions to adduct the vocal folds, close the posterior portion of rima glottidis and narrow the laryngeal inlet.

When acting in combination with transverse arytenoid and aryepiglottic, it acts as a sphincter of the laryngeal inlet. This reflexive action results in a closing of the rima glottidis which is a protective mechanism that prevents aspiration during swallowing or coughing.

When the oblique arytenoid acts together with other vocal fold adductors (transverse arytenoid, lateral cricoarytenoid, thyroarytenoid) and vocal fold tensors (cricothyroid, thyroarytenoid, vocalis), the vocal folds are approximated (adductive tension) and the rima glottis is closed. Expired air is pushed through the narrowed rima glottidis which causes vibrations of the tensed vocal ligaments and produces phonation.

In contrast, when the vocal cords are adducted but the oblique and transverse arytenoid muscles are relaxed, the arytenoid cartilages are spaced out, and thus air passing through the rima glottidis does not cause significant vibration of the vocal cords. This is the mechanism behind whispering, where breathing is modified into voice with the absence of tone.

Oblique arytenoid muscle: want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

Sign up for your free Kenhub account today and join over 1,202,532 successful anatomy students.

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References:

  • Moore, K. L., Dalley, A. F., & Agur, A. M. R. (2014). Clinically Oriented Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Singh, V. (2014). Textbook of Anatomy (Regional and Clinical) Head, Neck, and Brain; Volume Iii. London: Elsevier Health Sciences APAC.
  • Gray, H. (1918). Anatomy of the Human Body (20th ed). London, UK: Churchill Livingstone.

Article, review and layout:

  • Gordana Sendic
  • Nicola McLaren
  • Jana Vaskovic

Illustrations:

  • Oblique arytenoid muscle (musculus arytenoideus obliquus) - Paul Kim
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