Cricoarytenoid Arthritis


Primary Rheumatologic Disease


  • Cricoarytenoid Joint Ankylosis Due to Prior Streptococcus Infection
  • Crohn’s Disease (see Crohn’s Disease, [[Crohns Disease]])
  • Mumps-Associated Laryngeal Arthritis (see Mumps Virus, [[Mumps Virus]])
  • Radiation Therapy Injury to Cricoarytenoid Joint
  • External Trauma to Cricoarytenoid Joint
  • Internal Trauma Due to Endotracheal Tube-Related Injury to Cricoarytenoid Joint: includes posterior or anterior arytenoid displacement, posterior dislocation resulting from extubation with a partially inflated endotracheal tube cuff, arytenoid chondritis secondary to prolonged endotracheal intubation
  • Tietze’s Syndrome


  • Cricoarytenoid Joint is a Diarthrodial Joint: includes a synovial lining and a fluid-filled bursa
    • The joint capsule and the ligamentous attachments, including the cricoarytenoid ligament, vocal ligament, and false vocal folds, limit normal motion of the joint
    • Motion of the arytenoid is characterized primarily as the arytenoid rocking over the long axis of the cricoid facet and gliding parallel to the long axis, as well as a small component of axial movement pivoting on the cricoarytenoid ligament
    • Three-dimensional analysis of cricoarytenoid mobility demonstrates that the arytenoid has rotates superiorly, posteriorly, and laterally in full abduction
  • Cricoarytenoid Fixation: abnormality of decreased joint mobility which results from trauma, injury, infection, or inflammation of joint


  • Operative Direct Laryngoscopy: the standard for clinical evaluation of cricoarytenoid joint mobility

Clinical Manifestations

Pulmonary Manifestations

  • Dysphonia (see Dysphonia, [[Dysphonia]])
  • Aspiration Pneumonia (see Aspiration Pneumonia, [[Aspiration Pneumonia]])
  • Exertional Dyspnea (see Dyspnea, [[Dyspnea]])
  • Acute Upper Airway Obstruction (see Obstructive Lung Disease, [[Obstructive Lung Disease]])
    • Nocturnal or daytime stridor
  • Acute Respiratory Failure (see Acute Hypoventilation, , [[Acute Hypoventilation]]): due to high-grade upper airway obstruction with excessive work of breathing

Other Manifestations


  • Treatment of Acute Cricoarytenoid Rheumatoid Arthritis: treat with anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications (with or without systemic steroids), adjunctive vocal rest, local heat, and humidification
    • Periarticular local steroid injections may help in ameliorating acute joint dysfunction
  • Treatment of Infectious Cricoarytenoid Arthritis: antibiotics
  • Surgery: may be required to restore mobility to cricoarytenoid joint


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