Gender-related variance in the size of the human larynx and its components

Diven, Allison, Kevin Kalnasy, Emily Koetters, Greg Grabowski, and Mary Tracy-Bee

The larynx is an organ located in the neck through which the air we breathe passes on its way to and from the lungs.  The larynx is composed of numerous pieces of cartilage in a specific arrangement.  While many medical procedures involve manipulation or accessing different areas of the larynx, few quantify the actual distances between these cartilaginous structures and related bony structures or make note of variations between gender and race.  Our study investigated the size and distance of the hyoid bone, the thyroid cartilage and the cricoid cartilage from 27 human cadavers at University of Detroit Mercy, Wayne State University School of Medicine, and Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine.  A significant difference was identified in the size of several cartilaginous structures between genders with males presenting larger anatomy than females. Surprisingly, the size of the thyroid-cricoid gap was slightly higher in females than males, although not significantly.  Our results are similar to other studies that have not utilized cadavers.  Precise knowledge of this variability has a great relevance for clinicians performing procedures like tracheostomies and cricothyrotomies of different genders.