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Cricothyroid ligament

The larynx, or voice box, has six different kinds of cartilages: the thyroid, arytenoid, cricoid, corniculate, cuneiform, and epiglottic. The cricothyroid ligament connects the thyroid cartilage with the arch of the cricoid cartilage.

Elastic fibers, known as conus elasticus, form the lateral (side) part of the cricothyroid ligament and cover the vocal ligaments and cricoid cartilage. The conus elasticus itself has two parts: the medial cricothyroid ligament and the lateral cricothyroid membranes. The cricothyroid ligament connects the cricoid and thyroid cartilage. The cricothyroid membranes link the cricoid, thyroid, and arytenoid cartilage.

Articulation (joint movement) is performed by the thyroid and cricoid cartilage with the help of synovial joints, which are moved by the cricothyroid ligament. In the event of an airway obstruction, the cricothyroid ligament and cricothyroid membrane are pierced between the thyroid cartilage and cricoid cartilage to provide an open airway in the larynx. This procedure, called a cricothyrotomy, is easier to perform than a tracheotomy and can be performed by medical personnel without surgical skills. However, the cricothyroid artery is located in the middle of the cricothyroid ligament and caution must be exercised to avoid accidental puncture of this vessel during such a procedure.

Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
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In Depth: Cricothyroid ligament

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