Describe the path of the vagus nerve and how it forms the recurrent laryngeal nerve. How does this differ on the right and left side?
The vagus nerve continues down the neck and accompanies the common carotid artery, which runs down the ventrolateral side of the trachea, along with sympathetic nerves in the thoracic cavity. On the right side at the level of the thoracic inlet a looping branch of the vagus nerve heads back up the neck to supply the trachea, oesophagus and larynx. The same happens on the left side the branching does not occur until the vagus nerve is well within the thoracic inlet. Therefore, the right recurrent laryngeal nerve forms well before the left recurrent laryngeal nerve.