Magnetic resonance imaging was employed to evaluate soft palate function in four normal volunteers and four patients with surgically repaired cleft palate, using a GE Signa clinical scanner at 1.5 T and a custom designed receive coil with a sensitivity profile encompassing from the nasopharynx to the larynx. Midsagittal images were obtained using spoiled gradient recalled acquisition at steady state while the subject phonated the following sounds: (a) MMM, (b) SSS, (c) DAH, and (d) EEE. An image at rest with normal breathing was also obtained. The soft palate and its relationship to the airway and the posterior pharyngeal wall were clearly visualized in all cases. Phonation of the prescribed sounds demonstrated the normal range of soft palate motion. The images also depicted the ability of the soft palate to divert airflow to the nasopharynx. Interpretation of functional MRI may be of value in evaluation of surgical results, guidance of speech therapy, and surgical planning in the cleft palate patient. This noninvasive alternative to conventional methods of visualization provides advantages in resolution, repeatability, and patient comfort.
- Index Terms: Cleft palate
- Magnetic resonance imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging