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An anatomical study of the myelination of human laryngeal nerves

  • J C Fleming (a1), N Gibbins (a1), P J Ingram (a2) and M Harries (a1)



To determine the differences in myelination between the human recurrent laryngeal nerve and superior laryngeal nerve.


Fifteen confirmed laryngeal nerve specimens were harvested from five cadavers. Cross-sections were examined under a photomicroscope and morphometric analysis performed.


There was a significantly greater number of myelinated fibres than unmyelinated fibres, in both the recurrent laryngeal nerve (p = 0.018) and the superior laryngeal nerve (p = 0.012). There was a significantly greater number of myelinated fibres in the superior laryngeal nerve, compared with the recurrent laryngeal nerve (p = 0.028). However, there was no significant difference in the number of unmyelinated fibres, comparing the two nerves (p = 0.116).


These findings support those of previous studies, and provide further evidence against the historical plexus theory of laryngeal nerve morphology. The differences in the degree of myelination, both within and between the human laryngeal nerves, may have clinical consequence regarding recovery of function following nerve injury.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Mr J C Fleming, Specialty Registrar, ENT Department, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Eastern Road, Brighton BN2 5BE, UK E-mail:


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Presented at the 8th Congress of the European Laryngological Society, 3 September 2010, Vienna, Austria



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