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Anatomy Atlases: Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus III: Nervous System: Cranial Nerves and Ganglia: Superior Laryngeal Nerve

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus III: Nervous System: Cranial Nerves and Ganglia

Superior Laryngeal Nerve

Ronald A. Bergman, PhD
Adel K. Afifi, MD, MS
Ryosuke Miyauchi, MD

Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed

Instead of its usual course on the medial side of the internal carotid artery, this nerve may pass lateral to the artery.

The external laryngeal branch often arises independently from the main trunk.

The superior laryngeal nerve may anastomose with the recurrent laryngeal nerve.

In addition to its usual territory of supply (cricothyroid muscle, inferior laryngeal constrictor, and cardiac sympathetics), this nerve, through its external laryngeal branch, has been reported to send fibers to the following structures: thyroid gland; pharyngeal plexus; sternohyoid; sternothyroid; thyrohyoid; and lateral cricoarytenoid muscles; mucous membrane of the true vocal cords; and the lower portion of the larynx.

The superior laryngeal nerve may arise by two roots; one of these may come from CN IX (glossopharyngeal).


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Berlin, D.D. and F.H. Lahey. (1929) Dissections of the recurrent and superior laryngeal nerves. Surg., Gynecol. Obstet. 49:102-104.

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Philipeaux, J.M. et A. Vulpian. (1869) Sur l'anastomose qui existe entre le nerf laryngé supérieur et le nerf récurrent. Arch. de Physiologie Normale et Pathologique 2:666-667.

Schaefer, E.A., Symington, J. and T.H. Bryce., Eds. (1915) Quain's Anatomy, 11th ed. Longmans, Green, and Co., London.

Vogel, P.H. (1952) The innervation of the larynx of man and dog. Am. J. Anat. ():427-440.

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