A two-sling mechanism of hyolaryngeal elevation in the pharyngeal phase of swallowing
Pearson, William Gordon, Jr.
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The pharyngeal phase of swallowing is a complex function that transfers a bolus from the oral cavity through the hypopharynx into the esophagus. A critical event in this process is the elevation of the hyolaryngeal complex, which opens the upper esophageal sphincter and relocates the airway away from an oncoming bolus. The suprahyoid group of muscles (mylohyoid, geniohyoid, digastric, and stylohyoid) and thyrohyoid are thought to underlie this function. The role of a deeper posterior sling of muscles that is comprised of stylopharyngeus, salpingopharyngeus and palatopharyngeus has not been determined. This project aims to investigate a hypothesized two-sling mechanism for hyolaryngeal elevation in the pharyngeal phase of swallowing. The thesis begins with background information of the functional anatomy thought to underlie hyolaryngeal elevation followed by an outline of studies that validate the structure, function, and clinical relevance of the two-sling mechanism. A cadaver model is first used to calculate potential force vectors of the muscular slings. The function of the two-sling apparatus is then investigated in vivo by using muscle functional MRI to evaluate muscles active in swallowing and dynamic MRI to perform kinematic analysis on key anatomical landmarks that represent attachment sites of the two-sling mechanism. Finally, the clinical significance of the two-sling mechanism is demonstrated by comparing spatial and temporal measurements collected from fluoroscopic imaging studies of patients with normal swallowing ability and swallowing difficulty.
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