Gender- and age-based differences in computerized tomographic measurements of the orophaynx

Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2008 Oct;106(4):563-70. doi: 10.1016/j.tripleo.2008.03.032. Epub 2008 Jul 7.


Objective: Our aim was to examine the influence of aging and body mass index (BMI) on the oropharynx configuration in male and female Japanese patients.

Study design: This study examined the computerized tomography (CT) images of 19 man and 19 women, group matched for age and BMI. The airway and the soft tissue volumes between the posterior nasal spine and top of the epiglottis were compared.

Results: The patients' height, total oropharynx length (TOL), and lower oropharynx lengths and volume measurements (soft tissue and airway) demonstrated statistically significant gender differences. Men consistently had larger TOL and volumes than women. In men, TOL changed with age, and age was a significant predictor of lower oropharynx length. In men, the upper oropharynx soft tissue volume decreased significantly with age and lower oropharynx soft tissue volume increased significantly with age. In women, no significant relationship was identified.

Conclusion: The airway lengthens with aging in males and we speculate that it becomes more collapsible, which in turn could contribute to obstructive sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Asians
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oropharynx / anatomy & histology*
  • Oropharynx / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / pathology*
  • Tomography, Spiral Computed
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Young Adult