Laryngeal paraganglia

Last revised by Henry Knipe on 2 Sep 2023

The laryngeal paraganglia are tiny specialized neuroendocrine tissues located within and near the larynx. Their function is uncertain but they may play a role in regulating blood flow and responding to changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

Gross anatomy

Although nomenclature is variable, these paraganglia are generally divided anatomically into superior and inferior groups 1-3.

Superior laryngeal paraganglia

The superior laryngeal paraganglia are located near the superior edge of the thyroid cartilage near the entrance of the larynx and the epiglottis. They are fairly constant in location, related to the internal branch of the superior laryngeal nerve 3.

Tumors arising from these cells are known as superior laryngeal paragangliomas 2.

Inferior laryngeal paraganglia

The inferior laryngeal paraganglia are more variable in location, in close proximity to the recurrent laryngeal nerves at the level of the cricoid cartilage and first tracheal ring 3. Occasionally they can be located within the thyroid gland capsule 2.

Tumors arising from these cells can grow medially presenting as submucosal subglottic luminal masses (known as inferior laryngeal paragangliomas), or laterally into the the thyroid gland (known as thyroid paragangliomas) 1.

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