Cricoid cartilage

Last revised by Dr Daniel MacManus on 02 Aug 2021

The cricoid cartilage is a ring-shaped structure that sits just below the thyroid cartilage, at the level of the C6 vertebra. It is the only complete cartilaginous ring of the whole airway.

Gross anatomy

The anterior portion is called the arch and the posterior quadrangular shaped portion is the lamina. It articulates with the thyroid and arytenoid cartilages by synovial joints. In the midline of the lamina there is a vertical ridge with shallow concavities for each side of the posterior cricoarytenoid muscle to attach to. The cricoid cartilage attaches to the thyroid cartilage by the median cricothyroid ligament and to the first tracheal ring by the cricotracheal ligament.

Anatomical variants

  • arch of cricoid cartilage 5

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1
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  • Figure 2
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  • Figure 3: cricoid (illustration)
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  • Case 1: fracture
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