Functional anatomy of levator veli palatini muscle and tensor veli palatini muscle in association with eustachian tube cartilage.Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2002 Jun; 111(6):530-6.AO
The anatomic relationships among the levator veli palatini muscle (LVPM), the tensor veli palatini muscle (TVPM), and the eustachian tube (ET) cartilage were investigated by computer-aided 3-dimensional reconstruction and measurement methods. The study used 13 normal temporal bone-ET specimens obtained from 13 individuals (range of age at death, 3 months to 88 years). This study revealed several anatomic features of the anterior cartilaginous portion of the ET. First, the LVPM is always located inferolateral to the inferior margin of the medial lamina (ML) of the ET cartilage. Second, the LVPM has a large cross-sectional area throughout the extent of the anterior cartilaginous portion of the ET. Third, although the LVPM lies close to the ML of the ET cartilage (0.44+/-0.16 mm in children and 1.02+/-0.58 mm in adults), there is no region of attachment. Finally, the TVPM is not attached to the lateral lamina (LL) of the ET cartilage of the anterior quarter of the cartilaginous portion. Accordingly, it could be assumed that the most anterior cartilaginous portion of the ET is opened primarily by the contraction of the LVPM, which causes a superior-medial rotation of the ML. Furthermore, since the contraction time of the LVPM is reported to be longer than that of the TVPM, the anterior cartilaginous portions of the ET may remain open, even after the middle to posterior cartilaginous portions are closed after relaxation of the TVPM. This process would produce a pumping action of the ET in the direction from the middle ear to the pharyngeal side. The pumping function may be beneficial to clearance of the middle ear.