Three-dimensional computer reconstruction of the levator veli palatini muscle in situ using magnetic resonance imaging

Jamie L. Perry, David P. Kuehn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Most studies have used two-dimensional (2D) data to image and study the velopharyngeal mechanism, oversimplifying the complexity of the system. Three-dimensional (3D) computer modeling and animation offers the advantage of viewing in all coordinate planes and gives the researcher the ability to apply external forces and chart resultant movement patterns. The objective of this project was to create a 3D model of the velopharyngeal mechanism, with primary focus on the levator veli palatini muscle, based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data to demonstrate the velum at rest and during elevation. Method: Quantitative data, based on MRI analyses and consisting of levator muscle length, width, and orientation were modeled using the Maya software system. Results: Using data derived from MRI analyses, an accurate and realistic computer reconstruction of the levator muscle in situ was possible. A video of the animation was created to demonstrate the anatomy from variable view points, layering of the velar muscles, and movement of the velopharyngeal mechanism during vowel production. Conclusion: Improvements in visualization of the levator veli palatini muscle through 3D computer graphics offer a promising future for the field of speech science in providing advancements in basic research. It will be valuable in applied research and clinical activities such as surgical management for individuals impacted by a cleft palate. It is a step forward in creating models of abnormal anatomy (i.e., cleft palate) and is a step closer to a virtual surgical planning tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-423
Number of pages3
JournalCleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • 3D animation
  • Cleft palate
  • Computer modeling
  • Virtual surgical tools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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