recurrent laryngeal nerve

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The recurrent laryngeal nerve is a branch of the vagus nerve that supplies on each side the:

  • motor component to the intrinsic muscles of the larynx and also some fibre to cricopharyngeus
  • sensory component to laryngeal mucosa below the vocal cords to the level of the upper trachea. It also supplies fibres to mucosa of the upper trachea.

It has a different course in each hemithorax - the left recurrent laryngeal nerve is longer. Injury to the recurrent laryngeal nerve tends to produce changes in the quality of the voice.

Last reviewed 01/2018