Human vocalis contains distinct superior and inferior subcompartments: Possible candidates for the two masses of vocal fold vibration

Ira Sanders, Surinder Rai, Yingshi Han, Hugh F. Biller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is not understood how different parts of the thyroarytenoid muscle contribute to vocal fold vibration. This study investigated the medial part of the thyroarytenoid muscle, the vocalis compartment, for anatomic differences that might suggest functionally distinct areas. Twenty human vocal folds were frontally sectioned and stained with hematoxylin and eosin. A single section from the middle of each vocal fold was magnified, and the muscle fascicles of the most superficial 25% of the vocalis compartment were then examined. In all 20 specimens the vocalis compartment could be separated into 2 plainly distinct subcompartments: the inferior vocalis compartment was composed of a single large muscle fascicle that contained densely packed muscle fibers of similar size; the superior vocalis compartment was composed of multiple small fascicles in which the muscle fibers were loosely arranged and varied greatly in size. On average, the inferior vocalis subcompartment composed 60% of the medial surface of the thyroarytenoid muscle. The superior subcompartment composed the remaining 40% of the medial surface, but also continued past the vocal ligament to make up the superior surface of the thyroarytenoid muscle. It is concluded that 2 distinct entities make up the vocalis compartment of the thyroarytenoid muscle. Their anatomy is so markedly different it suggests that they may function independently. One possibility is that they reflect the 2 masses observed in the superior and inferior aspects of the vocal fold during vibration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)826-833
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Volume107
Issue number10 II
DOIs
StatePublished - 1998

Keywords

  • Compartments
  • Larynx
  • Thyroarytenoid muscle
  • Vocal fold
  • Vocalis muscle
  • Voice

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