Aryepiglottic fold: normal topography and clinical implications

Clin Anat. 1998;11(4):223-35. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2353(1998)11:4<223::AID-CA1>3.0.CO;2-S.


The aryepiglottic folds extend between the arytenoid cartilage and the lateral margin of the epiglottis on each side and constitute the lateral borders of the laryngeal inlet. They are involved in physiologic closure mechanisms of the larynx and in pathologic conditions such as inspiratory stridor. Information on the normal topography of the aryepiglottic folds is poor and controversial. Therefore, this region was reinvestigated in serial whole-organ sections of 25 plastinated normal adult human larynges. Dorsally, the right and the left aryepiglottic folds are separated by the interarytenoid notch and comprise the corniculate and cuneiform cartilages, as well as numerous groups of mucous glands. Ventrally, the aryepiglottic folds are adjacent to the peri-epiglottic adipose tissue. Both regions are clearly separated by several layers of transversely oriented collagenous fiber layers. The muscular constituent of the aryepiglottic folds is only poorly developed, and no muscle fibers insert at the epiglottis. A coherent quadrangular membrane representing a ligamentous "skeleton" of the aryepiglottic folds is absent. A conspicuous collagenous fiber layer is found only to strengthen the free dorsal margin of the fold. Both muscular and ligamentous components may render the aryepiglottic folds sufficiently tense as to resist inspiratory inward suction in normal cases. However, pliability must be preserved to guarantee adequate folding in approximation of the aryepiglottic folds during deglutition. Thereby, the posterior part of the laryngeal inlet is closed, whereas the anterior part is probably closed by independent inward bulging of the peri-epiglottic adipose tissue.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arytenoid Cartilage / anatomy & histology*
  • Arytenoid Cartilage / physiology
  • Cadaver
  • Deglutition / physiology
  • Epiglottis / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ligaments / anatomy & histology*
  • Ligaments / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Smooth / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiology
  • Respiration / physiology