Aryepiglottic folds

The aryepiglottic folds are two ligamentomuscular structures within the supraglottic larynx that function to protect the airway when swallowing.

Gross Anatomy

Each aryepiglottic fold is comprised of the superior ligamentous edge of the quadrangular membrane and covering mucous membrane1, the extensions of the oblique arytenoid and thyroarytenoid muscles2 and two rounded swellings shaped by the cuneiform and corniculate cartilages beneath1.  

The aryepiglottic folds mark the lateral borders of the laryngeal inlet2 and is therefore a critical structure for anaesthetists when performing direct laryngoscopy3.


When swallowing, the aryepiglottic folds function as the chief protective airway mechanism1. The extensions of the thyroarytenoid muscle (thyroepiglottic muscle) adduct the aryepiglottic folds during swallow to prevent aspiration. When the larynx rises during swallow, the epiglottis will often cover the laryngeal inlet as a protective mechanism, but this is not always the case1.

Head and neck anatomy
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Article information

rID: 53096
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Tag: larynx
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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