Sexual dimorphism of the levator veli palatini muscle: An imaging study

Jamie L. Perry, David P. Kuehn, Bradley P. Sutton, Jinadasa K. Gamage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Magnetic resonance imaging studies of the levator veli palatini muscle have used small numbers of subjects and have not consistently controlled for sex, race, or age. The purpose of this study was to conduct a structural assessment using a large homogeneous sample to examine the sex differences in the levator muscle morphology.

Methods: Thirty white adult subjects (15 men and 15 women) were imaged using a 3 Tesla MRI system. A high-resolution SPACE (sampling perfection with application-optimized contrasts using different flip-angle evolution) sequence was used to acquire images of the velopharyngeal anatomy. Levator muscle measurements were obtained.

Results: Men displayed significantly greater levator extravelar segment length (P = .003), levator intravelar segment muscle length (P < .001), greater distance between levator insertion points (P < .001), and greater angles of origin (P = .008) compared with women. There was no statistically significant variation between men and women in the distance between points of origin at the base of the skull.

Conclusions: This study provides normative data to improve understanding of levator dysmorphology such as that in cleft palate muscle anatomy. Results of the study demonstrate significant differences between white men and women across several levator muscle measures. Variations in the relative size of the cranium or height of the individual were not proportionate to the variations observed in the levator muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-552
Number of pages9
JournalCleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


  • Imaging study
  • Levator veli palatini muscle
  • MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Oral Surgery

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