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December 1996

Human Posterior Cricoarytenoid Muscle Compartments: Anatomy and Mechanics

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Otolaryngology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn (Dr Bryant); the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Tennessee, Memphis (Dr Woodson and Mr Hengesteg); the Motion Analysis Laboratory, San Diego Children's Hospital, San Diego, Calif (Dr Kaufman); the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa (Dr Rosen); and the Department of Radiotherapy, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis (Ms Chen and Dr Yeung).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122(12):1331-1336. doi:10.1001/archotol.1996.01890240039009

Objective:  To document the presence and functional significance of distinct anatomical compartments in the human posterior cricoarytenoid muscle (PCA).

Design:  Anatomic study of human cadaver larynges.

Subjects:  Seventeen fresh larynges, harvested at autopsy from 8 men and 9 women, with no history of laryngeal disease or surgery.

Interventions:  Twenty-three PCA muscles from 12 human cadaver larynges were dissected. Computed tomographic scanning and rigid body mechanical analysis were used to compute 3-dimensional motion with simulated individual contraction of PCA compartments in 5 fresh larynges.

Results:  Discrete medial and lateral bellies with different orientations of muscle fibers were found in every muscle. The 2 bellies insert on opposing aspects of the muscular process of the arytenoid. Very little linear translation was effected by either muscle. The axes of rotation attributable to the 2 bellies differed significantly, with the medial belly effecting rotation about a more vertical axis. The axis of rotation for the lateral muscle belly was nearer the anterior posterior axis than that of the medial belly.

Conclusions:  These data indicate that PCA muscle contraction results in arytenoid rotation about a variable oblique axis without significant lateral gliding. There are 2 bellies within the human PCA muscle with differing mechanical actions on the cricoarytenoid joint.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122:1331-1336