Anatomy of the Internal Branch of the Superior Laryngeal Nerve

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Clinical Anatomy


The purpose of this study was to determine the length and distribution of the branches of the internal branch of the superior laryngeal nerve (ibSLN) and describe the initial afferent pathway for the laryngeal cough reflex (LCR). On 25 sides of 19 cadaver specimens, the ibSLN and its branches were dissected from the greater cornu of the hyoid to the mucosa of the larynx and laryngopharynx. The location of these terminal fibers were confirmed by direct observation and fiberoptic laryngoscopy. In 21 specimens, the ibSLN coursed 6.95+/-3.71 mm before piercing the thyrohyoid membrane and splitting into superior, middle, and inferior rami. Four specimens split proximal to the thyrohyoid membrane. The superior ramus distributed to the mucosa of the piriform recess. In this study the large, middle ramus was a new finding and distributed branches to the mucosa of the vestibule of the larynx, specifically the quadrangular membrane. The length of the ibSLN from the greater cornu to the end of the middle ramus at quadrangular membrane was 28.52+/-4.61 mm. The termination of these fibers were confirmed by observation and direct laryngoscopy. The middle ramus probably conveyed the afferent component of the laryngeal cough reflex. The inferior ramus did not distribute to the vestibular mucosa.



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