Normal Throat Anatomy

The throat is a very complex part of the body which participates in breathing, swallowing and voice production.

The throat is a very complex organ which participates in very complex functions of breathing, swallowing, and voice production.

The throat is subdivided into:

Nasal cavity
Nasopharynx
Oral Cavity
Oropharynx
Larynx
Hypopharynx

The nasopharynx houses the adenoids, or tonsillar tissue behind the nose. Also located in the nasopharynx is the opening of the eustachian tube to the nose.

The oral cavity extends from the tip of the tongue to the tonsillar pillar. The oral cavity contains the lips, teeth, alvelolar ridge, tongue floor of mouth and hard palate.

The oropharynx is directly behind the oral cavity and contains the tonsils, posterior pharyngeal wall, and the base of tongue. The lingual tonsils are located within the oropharynx as well.

The larynx, or voice box, is responsible for voice production. The larynx from the outside is protected by the thyroid cartilage. The thyroid cartilage serves as a shield to protect the airway.

Functions: Control respiration
Participate in breathing
Coordination in swallowing
Cough production
Voice production
Chemoreceptor and baroreceptor f

The larynx is separated from top to bottom into three separate structures
Supraglottis
Glottis
Subglottis

Glottis – The vocal folds are part of the glottis and are responsible for most of the functions including voice production. The vocal folds open and close in coordination of breathing.

The vocal folds are layered –

Sound production relies on vocal fold vibrations, and closure of the vocal folds, vibration, and symmetry of the vocal folds. Anything that disturbs the delicate layering, including cancer, cysts, polyps or scars disturb the normal vibration casuing hoarseness.

The supraglottis consists of the epiglottis, arytenoids, and false vocal folds. The epiglottis participates in swallowing, helping with swallowing. The false vocal folds, located just above the vocal folds, assists in swallowing. Some individuals also make sound using their false vocal folds. The arytenoids are cartilage which hinge on the vocal folds, producing the opening and closing motion.

The supraglottis extends from the tip of the epiglottis to the top part of the coal folds. The glottis contains the vocal folds, and extends from the top portion of the vocal fold, inferiorly 1 centimeter. The subglottis extends from there to the bottom portion of the cricoid cartilage


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Throatdisorder.com is an online resource for patients and physicians to learn more about common voice, swallowing, breathing and throat disorders. Throat complaints, from cough to cancer, are a common reason for patients to seek medical treatment. This website developed as a result of Dr. Sunil Verma's passions: that of education, patient care, and interest in technology.

NOTE : The information presented on this site is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified physician. It may not be appropriate to your individual case, and should not be used in making treatment decisions, especially with regard to medication. Considerable effort is made to ensure that the information on this site is accurate, but medicine is a changing field, and this website is not responsible for errors or omissions. Use of this website acknowledges the above.

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