Cricoid Cartilage, its Function, and Importance in the Human Body

Just like every part in the human body; cricoid cartilage has its own importance and functionality. Without this cartilage, there will be noting to support your windpipe. It also helps with the production of speech by opening and closing. Every bone in our body has great importance, and they each lay a different role that helps us in one way or another.  It is important to know such things because general knowledge about such things can help you increase your knowledge about your own body.

Cricoid cartilage

The placement of the cricoid cartilage is just below the thyroid cartilage and is present in the pig as well. It is attached to the thyroid cartilage with the cricothyroid ligament. As you know, the tracheal tube is formed in the shape of small circular rings, and the cricoid is resent just above it. The first ring of the tracheal tube is attached to the cricoid cartilage with the circo-tracheal ligament. Now the thyroid gland themselves has the anatomical relation with the cricoid cartilage. The thyroid glands are two in number and they are connected by a bridge.

The bridge is present over the trachea, which is present above the cricoid cartilage. The bridge itself is known as the isthmus. The thyroid glands, on the other hand, are present on each side above the cricoid cartilage. So that is why all these structures are related to each other are joined together one way or another.

Cricoid cartilage as hyaline cartilage

The cricoid cartilage is hyaline cartilage, and it acts as the inferior part of the skeleton. It provides great support, and without the presence of cricoid cartilage along with the thyroid cartilage, the patency of the airway is possible. So, all these small cartilage bones make up the whole important structure in your body. The cricoid is the Greek word for the ring. It is named so because the cricoid cartilage looks like the signet ring. As you know that the it is the hyaline cartilage.

An important thing about the hyaline cartilage is that they are soft at first, and then as the person ages, it becomes hard along with the aging process. So, the same is the case with it as it is softer at first, and as the person’s age develops, it hardens and develops accordingly with it. It is the only cartilage in the full ring form in your whole body. It is also the second-largest cartilage in the laryngeal skeleton.

Important functions

There are many important functions of the cricoid cartilage and following are some of them

  • The main function is that it contributes towards the formation of the structure of the larynx.
  • It also maintains the patency of the trachea.
  • Another function of it is to act as the point of connection between some of the important ligaments, muscles, and cartilages.
  • It helps with the phonation process somehow and also aids in the closing of the airway when you are eating something. It helps with the phonation process by adduction and abduction of the vocal cords.
  • In a medical setting, the it’s importance is known for the anatomical representation in the cricothyroidotomy. The use to develop an alternate airway is the role of the cricoid cartilage.
  • Since it helps with the support of the trachea, then it also holds its importance in the clitoridectomy.

Clinical significance of cricoid cartilage

The cricoid cartilage has great clinical significance, and that makes the understanding of its anatomy and functions very essential. The following are some of the reasons why it has great clinical significance.

  • Basically, during the intubation for general anesthesia before the surgery in the patient, the cricoid cartilage is first pressed so any gastric reflux can be avoided. This technique is known as the Sellick maneuver and is a very important technique as a pre-surgery thing.
  • Sometimes the blockages within the trachea can happen and is a very painful experience, so in such pain, the cricoidectomy is done, and this means that it is removed to relieve any obstructions.
  • Sometimes due to throttling, the fractures to the cricoid cartilage can happen. This can take time to heal if the damage done during strangulation is not that bad.

All these things show the clinical significance of the cricoid cartilage. It makes us understand why the understanding of this cartilage is important for clinical purposes. It plays different functions and has different importance features.


Just like any part or organ of the body, there can be some of the abnormalities with the cricoid cartilage in the human body as well. This can lead to the irregular or even loss of the function of the it. Any abnormalities occur in the development stage of the body, and the developmental mechanism of the circoid cartilage is chondrification in the mesenchyme commencing, and these parts join afterward first posteriorly and then anteriorly. Following are some of the abnormalities that can happen with it’s development. You must know that this is very rare on the people and where any appearance of such abnormality is in the early fetal stage of life and can be identified easily

  • Basically, it can have excessive growth in the circumferential area. This situation can lead to the narrowing of the lumen, and thus the circoid cartilage gets thicker with a very narrow lumen.
  • Other problem could be the excessive growth in the posterior wall, and that can cause the obstruction the laryngeal lumen

The signs and symptoms of these abnormalities include the dyspnea which can be present in the person from the birth. It can also develop shortly after birth as growth occurs. You have to consult the doctor, so this problem can be identified quickly. In some of the cases, they might even end up removing the circoid cartilage permanently if any other resolve isn’t working.

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