Detailed 3-dimensional surgical anatomy of the soft palate: a confluence of anatomy, radiology, and medical illustration

Published:October 21, 2022DOI:
      The objective of this study was to develop an anatomically accurate three-dimensional (3D) digital model of the soft palate, derived from patient imaging data and peer-reviewed gross and microscopic anatomical studies, and to provide this model publically for educational purposes. A head and neck CT angiography study of a healthy 29-year-old female was segmented by a neuroradiologist and a head and neck cancer surgeon into 3D objects. Peer-reviewed anatomical literature was queried to provide additional anatomical details. These details were then incorporated into the model with the assistance of a 3D medical illustrator. Tissue segmentation derived from CTA provided baseline anatomical structures to model the 5 paired muscles of the soft palate, the paired eustachian tubes, and relevant bony architecture. Twelve peer-reviewed anatomical studies contained sufficient anatomical descriptions to guide refinement of these structures in digital 3D space. The final modeled objects were finalized by a medical illustrator and then uploaded to a publicly available 3D model repository. The soft palate is a dynamic 3D structure that plays an important role in essential functions such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. By combining tissue segmentation from a normal neck CTA with published anatomical literature, and utilizing multidisciplinary expertise, we developed an anatomically accurate, detailed 3D model of the soft palate, which can serve as a powerful teaching aid for this complex region.



      2D = (2-dimensional), 3D = (3-dimensional), ET (eustachian tube), (L)PP ((longitudinal) palatopharyngeus), LVP (levator veli palatini), MU (musculus uvuli), PA (palatine aponeurosis), PG (palatoglossus), PH (pterygoid hamulus), TVP (tensor veli palatini)
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