The recurrent laryngeal nerve is a branch of the vagus nerve that supplies on each side the:
- motor component to the intrinsic muscles of the larynx and also some fibre to cricopharyngeus
- sensory component to laryngeal mucosa below the vocal cords to the level of the upper trachea. It also supplies fibres to mucosa of the upper trachea.
It has a different course in each hemithorax - the left recurrent laryngeal nerve is longer. Injury to the recurrent laryngeal nerve tends to produce changes in the quality of the voice.