Magnetic resonance imaging of the levator veli palatini muscle during speech

Sandra L. Ettema, David P. Kuehn, Adrienne L. Perlman, Noam Alperin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Objective: To obtain detailed anatomic information on the levator veli palatini (LVP) muscle from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Quantitative measures of the configuration of the LVP muscle at rest and during speech activities were obtained. Design: Prospective study using MRI of adult subjects with normal velopharyngeal mechanisms to determine anatomic and physiologic parameters of the levator muscle. The levator veli palatini muscle was imaged at rest and during speech activities consisting of nasal and nonnasal sounds mixed with vowels, consonants, or both (e.g., /ansa, asna, amfa, afma/). Participants: Ten normal healthy adults (five men, five women) between 21 and 53 years of age and free of oropharyngeal abnormalities. Main Outcome Measures: Two-dimensional spin echo static images and dynamic fast gradient echo images of the levator muscle in both the sagittal and oblique/coronal planes. Results: On average across female (F) and male (M) subjects: distance between LVP muscle origin points, 52.6 mm (F), 54.6 mm (M); angle of levator muscle origin at rest, 64.5° (F), 60.4° (M); length of the levator muscle at rest, 44.1 mm (F), 46.4 mm (M); width of levator muscle at lateral margin of velum, 5.5 mm (F), 6.6 mm (M). Both the levator muscle angle of origin and length became progressively smaller from rest, nasal consonants, low vowels, high vowels, and fricatives for both female and male subjects. Across all subjects, there was a 19% reduction in length of the LVP muscle from rest position to fricative production. Conclusions: MRI is an effective method of imaging and measuring the LVP muscle and related structures in living subjects. Understanding the normal tissue distribution and quantification of the LVP muscle provides important information for development of a functional biomechanical model of the velopharynx and for improved surgical treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-144
Number of pages15
JournalCleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 26 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Levator veli palatini (LVP)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Velopharynx

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dentistry(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Magnetic resonance imaging of the levator veli palatini muscle during speech'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this