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Thyroid cartilage

Anatomy, function and definition of the thyroid cartilage.

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Hello again everyone! It’s Matt from Kenhub, and in this tutorial, we will be discussing the thyroid cartilage. The larynx is the most superior part of the respiratory tract and 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. The thyroid cartilage is the largest of the laryngeal cartilages and partially encloses the other cartilages. You can see the thyroid cartilage highlighted in green on both of these images. On the left side, we see it from a lateral view and, on the right image, you can see the thyroid cartilage from a posterior view with the open pharyngeal muscles.

The thyroid cartilage is the largest of the laryngeal cartilages and it is made of two smooth laminae of which the two lower thirds fuse in the midline while most of the superior third remains unfused and creates the laryngeal notch. The thyroid cartilage makes the well-known Adam's apple due to the laryngeal prominence caused by the fused laminae. The cartilaginous superior and inferior horns are created by the projections of the posterior, superior and inferior borders of the cartilage respectively.

The thyrohyoid membrane connects the entire superior aspect of the cartilage to the hyoid bone. Other important structures of the thyroid worth mentioning on this tutorial include the superior thyroid notch which is located on the upper portion of the thyroid cartilage while the inferior thyroid notch is a shallow notch found at its lower margin as seen here. The superior and inferior thyroid tubercles are small lateral prominences on the outside of the thyroid lamina located at the upper and lower ends of the oblique line respectively.

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