Cricoid cartilage

Last revised by Yoshi Yu on 13 Apr 2023

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

Gross anatomy

It consists of a thinner anterior portion, called the arch and a broad flattened posterior portion called the lamina. The lamina articulates superiorly with the the arytenoid cartilages and laterally with the inferior horn of the thyroid cartilage by synovial joints. It is attached to the other laryngeal cartilages by muscles and tendons.


Intrinsic muscles:

Extrinsic muscles:


Intrinsic ligaments:

  • cricovocal membrane (conus elasticus)

Extrinsic ligaments:

  • cricothyroid membrane, which is thickened medially as the median cricothyroid ligament

  • 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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  • Case 2: fracture
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