Patients with recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) paresis demonstrate impaired function of laryngeal muscles and swallowing. The cricopharyngeus muscle (CPM) is a major component of the upper esophageal sphincter. It was hypothesized that the RLN innervates this muscle. A nerve branch leading from the RLN to the CPM was found in adult sheep by anatomic dissection. Electrical stimulation of the RLN elicited a muscle action potential recorded by electrodes placed in the ipsilateral CPM. Swallowing was investigated by mechanical stimulation of oropharynx pre- and postsectioning of the RLN. Severing of the RLN resulted in a loss of the early phases of swallow-related CPM electromyographic activity; however, late-phase CPM electromyographic activity persisted. The RLN provides motor innervation of the CPM, which also has innervation from the pharyngeal plexus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)