True vocal cords

The true vocal cords are the thickened, free edge of the cricovocal membrane, the cricovocal ligament, lined by mucous membrane . Together they form part of the glottis, the V-shaped aperture through which air passes. Their primary role is in phonation where vibration of the adducted vocal cords gives rise to sound waves with a certain pitch.

The cricovocal membrane, also known as conus elasticus, extends upwards from a semicircular base following the contours of the cricoid cartilage to form a horizontal upper border attached in the midline to thyroid cartilage and posteriorly to the vocal process of the arytenoid cartilage . This free edge between the thyroid laminae and the arytenoid cartilage is thickened as the cricovocal ligament .

Stratified squamous epithelium lines the vocal folds. The lamina propria is very firmly attached over the vocal cords.

Related pathology

  • Reinke edema
  • vocal cord nodules
  • vocal cord polyps
  • vocal cord leukoplakia
  • vocal cord dyskinesia 
  • vocal cord paralysis
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