This page was last updated: October 11, 2014
Pictures and Anatomy of the Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve
The right recurrent laryngeal arises from the vagus nerve as it passes in front of the right subclavian artery. It then curves below and behind the subclavian artery and angles slightly medially, as it courses superiorly, behind the thyroid gland toward the larynx.

The left recurrent laryngeal nerve arises from the vagus trunk, as it passes in front of the aortic arch.  The recurrent laryngeal then passes below and behind the aorta, at the level of the ligamentum arteriosum.  Finally, it ascends within the visceral compartment of the neck, behind the thyroid gland, between the esophagus and trachea.
Picture of the right recurrent laryngeal nerve passing in the groove between the trachea and the esophagus (the gutter), as it ascends toward the larynx.

This photograph also shows the right recurrent laryngeal nerve running in the tracheoesophageal groove.  The nerve integrity monitor ground electrode is inserted in the strap muscles.  Click here to learn about recurrent laryngeal nerve monitoring.
Otolaryngology Houston

Bechara Y. Ghorayeb, MD
Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery
Memorial Hermann Professional Building
1140 Business Center Drive, Suite  560
Houston, Texas 77043
For appointments, call: 713 464 2614