Age-dependent structural and radiological changes in the larynx

Clin Radiol. 2012 Nov;67(11):e22-6. doi: 10.1016/j.crad.2012.07.006. Epub 2012 Aug 29.


Aim: To define radiological physiological changes in the larynx by establishing an age-related scale.

Materials and methods: The present retrospective study used radiological records of patients that had undergone lateral cervical imaging. Three hundred patients were included. Thyroid cartilage was divided into anatomical regions. The hyoid bone was evaluated as the body and greater horns. Cases were compared by grouping by age and gender.

Results: Thyroid tissue and cricoid cartilage only became visible after the second decade. Ossification in the thyroid cartilage began in the posterior inferior horn and progressed to the superior horn and central lamina. It also began in the posterior part of the cricoid cartilage and moved forward with age. In the first decade, the body and greater horn parts of the hyoid bone could be seen more distinctly, and after the third decade the hyoid bone appeared as a single bone. The hyoid bone was the only structure ossified in the laryngeal region below the age of 20 and formed an image on direct imaging.

Conclusions: Age-related changes to the laryngeal tissues are evident on radiographs. Clinicians should bear this in mind when evaluating neck radiographs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging / physiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cricoid Cartilage / anatomy & histology
  • Cricoid Cartilage / diagnostic imaging
  • Cricoid Cartilage / growth & development
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Larynx / anatomy & histology
  • Larynx / diagnostic imaging*
  • Larynx / growth & development
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteogenesis
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Thyroid Cartilage / anatomy & histology
  • Thyroid Cartilage / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroid Cartilage / growth & development
  • Young Adult