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Cricoarytenoid Joint
Respiratory System

Cricoarytenoid Joint

Articulatio cricoarytenoidea

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The cricoarytenoid joints are synovial joints between the upper lateral margin of the cricoid lamina and the base of the arytenoid cartilage.

The joint is encapsulated by a capsule and strengthened by a capsular ligament that is sometimes called the posterior cricoarytenoid ligament.

The cricoarytenoid joint permits two types of movement, rotation and gliding. When rotation occurs it causes the vocal process (and thus the vocal cord) to move in a lateral or medial direction. This changes the opening of the rima glottidis to be open, partially opened, or closed. When gliding occurs, the arytenoids move towards or away from each other and is often described as a rocking movement.

The rotation and gliding motions occur in tandem so that is medial rotation occurs it is accompanied by medial gliding. This results in adduction of the vocal folds and closing of the airway. Conversely, a combination of lateral rotation and lateral gliding results in abduction of the vocal folds and opening of the airway.

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Posterior Cricoarytenoid Muscle

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The posterior cricoarytenoid muscle is the only abductor muscle of the larynx.

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