anatomy and physiology mcqs

Question #596

The epiglottis



The epiglottis is a leaf shaped fibrocartilage located just posterior to the tongue and marking the beginning of the larynx. In the infant the epiglottis is located higher and is shaped like the greek letter omega rather than leaf shaped.

It has several important attachments:

  • The arytenoids via the aryepiglottic folds
  • The thyroid cartilage via the thyroepiglottic ligament
  • The hyoid bone via the hyoepiglottic ligament.

As the hyoid bone is elevated by the suprahyoid muscles the epiglottis flops backwards towards its attachment to the arytenoids, aided by the tongue retracting backwards within the oropharynx. If there is a bolus of food this will also aid pushing the epiglottis backwards.

The epiglottis has a small number of taste buds innervated by the vagus nerve. As will all laryngeal muscosa above the vocal cords, the larynx receives its general sensory innervation from the internal branch of the superior laryngeal nerve.

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