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Recurrent laryngeal nerve

Recommended video: Vagus nerve [18:13]
Course, branches and nuclei of the vagus nerve.

The recurrent laryngeal nerve arises from the vagus nerve (CNX) in the inferior part of the neck. There are two recurrent laryngeal nerves, one on the right side and one on the left side of the body.

These nerves are aptly called recurrent because of their pathway. They travel a recurrent course in the opposite direction from their branching point. The main trunk of the nerve is bordered medially by the trachea and esophagus. Laterally it is bordered by the common carotid artery, the internal jugular vein and the vagus nerve

The nerves on the two sides have similar distribution; however, they loop around different structures and at different levels on the two different sides. The right recurrent laryngeal nerve loops around the right subclavian artery around the T1–T2 vertebral level. The left recurrent laryngeal nerve loops around the aortic arch around the T4–T5 vertebral level and ascends in tracheoesophageal groove. 

The recurrent laryngeal nerve innervates all intrinsic muscles of larynx except the cricothyroid muscle. It also provides sensory innervation to the inferior part of the vocal folds

Terminology: Latin: Nervus laryngeus recurrens
English: Recurrent laryngeal nerve 
Origin: Vagus nerve (CNX)
Course:  Right recurrent laryngeal nerve: Loops around the subclavian artery.
Left recurrent laryngeal nerve:Runs around the arch of the aorta and ascends in the tracheoesophageal groove
Innervation: All intrinsic muscles of larynx except cricothyroid 
Sensory innervation, inferior to level of vocal folds

Dive into the intricacies of the recurrent laryngeal nerve with our comprehensive study unit:

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