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Cricoid cartilage

Anatomy, function, definition and location of the cricoid cartilage.

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Hello there everyone! It’s Matt from Kenhub, and in this tutorial, we will be discussing the cricoid cartilage. The larynx is the most superior part of the respiratory tract and works as the voice box of the human body. It surrounds and protects the vocal cords as well as the entrance to the trachea preventing food particles or fluids from entering the lungs. The cartilages of the larynx make up its skeleton. This tutorial will be dedicated to the cricoid cartilage which you can see highlighted in green on this image of the lateral view of the larynx. Note that the thyroid cartilage is cut so we can expose the cricoid cartilage.

This cartilage is shaped like a signet ring with the signet-shaped lamina facing posteriorly. It is a complete circle of cartilage and is attached superiorly via the median cricothyroid ligament to the inferior aspect of the thyroid cartilage. One important point to remember is that the cricoid cartilage articulates with the thyroid cartilage at the cricothyroid joint. Between the cricoid and the thyroid cartilages at the midline, there is a strong ligament known as the median cricothyroid ligament.

The cricotracheal ligament is another important ligament which connects the cricoid cartilage inferiorly with the first ring of the trachea. The strength and thickness of the cricotracheal ligament are necessary for holding the upper and lower respiratory tracts together.

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