Tongue and lateral upper airway movement with mandibular advancement

Elizabeth C. Brown, Shaokoon Cheng, David K. McKenzie, Jane E. Butler, Simon C. Gandevia, Lynne E. Bilston*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Study Objectives: To characterize tongue and lateral upper airway movement and to image tongue deformation during mandibular advancement. Design: Dynamic imaging study of a wide range of apnea hypopnea index (AHI), body mass index (BMI) subjects. Setting: Not-for-profit research institute. Participants: 30 subjects (aged 31-69 y, AHI 0-75 events/h, BMI 17-39 kg/m2). Interventions: Subjects were imaged using dynamic tagged magnetic resonance imaging during mandibular advancement. Tissue displacements were quantified with the harmonic phase technique. Measurements and Results: Mean mandibular advancement was 5.6 ± 1.8 mm (mean ± standard deviation). This produced movement through a connection from the ramus of the mandible to the pharyngeal lateral walls in all subjects. In the sagittal plane, 3 patterns of posterior tongue deformation were seen with mandibular advancement-(A) en bloc anterior movement, (B) anterior movement of the oropharyngeal region, and (C) minimal anterior movement. Subjects with lower AHI were more likely to have en bloc movement (P = 0.04) than minimal movement. Anteroposterior elongation of the tongue increased with AHI (R = 0.461, P = 0.01). Mean anterior displacements of the posterior nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal regions of the tongue were 20% ± 13% and 31% ± 17% of mandibular advancement. The posterior tongue compressed 1.1 ± 2.2 mm supero-inferiorly. Conclusions: Mandibular advancement has two mechanisms of action which increase airway size. In subjects with low AHI, the entire tongue moves forward. Mandibular advancement also produces lateral airway expansion via a direct connection between the lateral walls and the ramus of the mandible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-404
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


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