Arytenoid cartilage

Last revised by Craig Hacking on 21 Feb 2024

The arytenoid cartilages are paired hyaline cartilages that articulate with the sloping upper border of the lamina of the cricoid cartilage via the synovial cricoarytenoid joint. This joint allows movement of the arytenoid cartilages, which is vital in approximating, tensing and relaxing the vocal folds. They are 2 of the 9 laryngeal cartilages.

Each cartilage is pyramidal in shape and has three projections or processes:

Slightly anteriorly to the arytenoid cartilages sit the paired cuneiform cartilages, which lie within the aryepiglottic fold.

The word  'arytenoid' derives from the greek word meaning ladle-shaped. 

Sclerosis of the arytenoid cartilages is often a normal variant in asymptomatic subjects on CT scan, especially when found on the left side in females and when involving the body instead of the vocal process 4. As such, it should not be mistaken for tumor invasion (squamous cell carcinoma), although it wouldn't upstage the lesion according to the staging system.

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