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Vocal Fold
Respiratory System

Vocal Fold

Plica vocalis

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Structure/Morphology

The vocal folds are formed from the vocal ligament, the free superior margin of the conus elasticus (a portion of the cricothyroid membrane). It extends from the internal surface of the thyroid cartilage to the vocal process of the arytenoid cartilages.

The vocal ligament is covered by a layer of mucosa. The combination of the ligament, mucosa, and underlying muscular components (vocalis muscle) form the vocal fold or vocal cord.

The female vocal folds are approximately 60% shorter than the male vocal folds, thus a female’s voice is typically higher-pitched. Additionally, the folds tend to be 20–30% thinner than male vocal folds (Titze, 1987).

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Key Features/Anatomical Relations

The vocal folds lie on each side of an opening called the rima glottis. The vocal folds meet at the anterior commissure and are attached to the thyroid cartilage. This point is sometimes referred to Broyles ligament. It contains lymphatics and blood vessels, and it is a site through which malignancies of the larynx may spread.

List of Clinical Correlates

- Laryngeal carcinoma

- Reinke’s edema

- Vocal cord nodules

References

Titze, I. R. (1987) 'Physiology of the female larynx', The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 82(S1), pp. S90-S91.

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Vocal Folds

ScienceDirect image

Within each vocal fold is a band of highly elastic connective tissue that is suspended between the thyroid and arytenoid cartilages.

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