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Anatomy Atlases: Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 1 - Cells Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 11 - Respiratory System

Plate 11.221 Larynx: Vocal Folds

Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger, Jr., Ph.D.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed

Vocal folds

Plate 11.221 Larynx: Vocal Folds

Cat, Bouin's, AFT, 5.5 x.


The larynx is a tubular organ whose framework consists of several cartilages and elastic membranes. Its mucous membrane is continuous with the pharynx cranially and the trachea posteriorly.

Vocal folds are formed from the mucous membrane; they vibrate as air from the lungs traverses them, thus generating sound. The activity of the vocal folds is regulated by nerve and muscle acting on the membrane through, primarily, the arytenoid cartilages (seen here in two parts on both sides, owing to sectioning). Important muscles seen in this section include the posterior cricoarytenoid, which is the only muscle to open the airway (rima glottis); the lateral cricoarytenoid, which is one of several muscles that closes the airway; and the vocalis muscle, which acts on the vocal process and fovea of the arytenoid cartilage to relax the vocal ligaments.

The esophagus is seen in its normal flattened condition. The lining epithelium is non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelium. The same epithelium covers the vocal folds, but cranially and posteriorly it is respiratory epithelium, i.e., pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium.

Bouin, 1870-1962, was a French histologist.

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