Biomechanical properties of the human tongue are needed for finite element models of the upper airway and may be important to elucidate the pathophysiology of obstructive sleep apneoa. Tongue viscoelastic properties have not been characterized previously. Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is an emerging imaging technique that can measure the viscoelastic properties of soft tissues in-vivo. In this study, MRE was used to measure the viscoelastic properties of the tongue and soft palate in 7 healthy volunteers during quiet breathing. Results show that the storage shear modulus of the tongue and soft palate is 2.67±0.29 and 2.53±0.31 kPa (mean ± SD), respectively. This is the first study to investigate the mechanical properties of the tongue using MRE, and it provides necessary data for future studies of patient groups with altered upper airway function.
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