Surgical anatomy of human soft palate

Authors

  • Jae Hoon Cho MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Otorhinolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, College of Medicine, Konkuk University, Seoul, Korea
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  • Jin Kook Kim MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Otorhinolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, College of Medicine, Konkuk University, Seoul, Korea
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  • Hye-Yeon Lee MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Anatomy, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
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  • Joo-Heon Yoon MD, PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
    2. Airway Mucus Institute, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
    3. BK21 Project for Medical Science, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
    • Send correspondence to Joo-Heon Yoon, Department of Otohinolaryngology Yonsei University College of Medicine, 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, Korea 120-752. E-mail: jhyoon@yuhs.ac

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  • H-Y.L. and J-H.Y. contributed equally to the creation of this article.

  • The authors have no funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis

The soft palate is composed of several muscles. So far, these muscles have been analyzed separately and the whole structure of the soft palate has been described very vaguely. The purpose of this study was to describe the structure of soft palate collectively.

Study Design

Human cadaver dissection.

Methods

Anatomical dissection was performed on 20 Korean, formalin-fixed cadavers (13 men and 7 women). The heads were randomly assigned to either dissection groups, medial-to-lateral (10 heads) or posterior-to-anterior (10 heads).

Results

Fibro-fatty layer was located in the oral side of the soft palate and became thick and dense along the midline. The levator veli palatini was distributed on the nasal side of the soft palate. The average vertical distance from the top of palatopharyngeal arch to the levator veli palatini was 12.3 ± 5.2 mm. The palatopharyngeus was also spread out widely and filled the palatopharyngeal arch. The periosteum of the hard palate became the fascia of the soft palate, which was merged with the aponeurosis of the tensor veli palatini in the midline. The Passavant's ridge was located between the levator veli palatini and palatopharyngeus, inserting onto the aponeurosis. The palatoglossus was very thin and embedded in the palatoglossal arch.

Conclusion

The muscles of the soft palate are intermingled with each other in the fibro-fatty layer. Comprehensive anatomical knowledge is needed to reduce unnecessary damage and obtain good surgical results for obstructive sleep apnea.

Level of Evidence

N/A. Laryngoscope, 123:2900–2904, 2013

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