Background: No studies have reported the circumference and diameter of the levator veli palatini muscle at multiple points along its length and from both views (frontal and lateral). The purpose of this study was to provide quantitative data regarding the levator muscle morphology along the length of the muscle using magnetic resonance imaging and advanced three-dimensional computer technology. Methods: Ten Caucasian male subjects participated in the study. Subjects were scanned using a Siemens 3 T Trio. Levator muscle measures were obtained using a two-dimensional image plane. A three-dimensional model was used to measure the circumference and muscle diameter (in two directions) at six points along the length of the levator muscle. Results: Levator muscle length ranged from 41.67 mm to 52.85 mm across all subjects. Mean extravelar muscle length was 30.55 mm (SD, 2.8 mm) and 30.01 mm (SD, 2.9 mm) for right and left muscles. The mean circumference at the origin was 18.90 mm (SD, 2.6 mm). At the second point, the muscle circumference mean increased slightly (mean, 22.40 mm; SD, 4.9 mm). The means for the remainder of the measures (points 3, 4, 5, and 6) were consistent, showing little to no change. Conclusion: Circumference and diameter values were similar to those reported in previous literature. The muscle did diverge at the point where the muscle bundle entered the velum, as it has been previously described. Instead, the muscle diverges near the midline insertion becoming sparser (smaller superior-to-inferior diameter).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-75
Number of pages12
JournalCleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Levator veli palatini muscle
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Muscle morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Oral Surgery


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