Larynx and hypopharynx

Author: Nat Pernick, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 16 March 2018, last major update November 2013

Copyright: (c) 2002-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Larynx [title] histology [title]

Cite this page: Pernick, N. Histology. website. Accessed March 23rd, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Junction between epithelial types may be abrupt or separated by transitional area; patches of squamous epithelium in respiratory epithelium are common, particularly in smokers
  • Dendritic melanocytes may be present in basal layer, particularly in blacks

  • Epiglottis: stratified squamous epithelium similar to oral cavity with modified salivary glands that secrete thick mucous; laryngeal surface also has pits containing mucous glands
  • Cartilage has full thickness fenestrae that communicate with pre-epiglottic "space", which contains fat and areolar tissue

  • False vocal cords and other supraglottic larynx: ciliated, columnar epithelium extending into ventricle of Morgagni with submucosal modified salivary gland epithelium

  • Glottis: space between two vocal cords

  • Hypopharynx: covered by non-keratinizing stratified squamous epithelium; contains mucosal glands, scattered lymphoid aggregates and rich lymphatic plexus

  • Reinke's space: lamina propria of true vocal cord, between base of squamous epithelium and vocal ligament

  • True vocal cords: stratified squamous epithelium with no / rare submucosal glands

  • Subglottic larynx: epithelium resembles trachea / major bronchi - ciliated columnar epithelium with submucosal glands
Microscopic (histologic) images

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True and false vocal cords

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