, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 375–380 | Cite as

Cross-Sectional Area of the Anterior Belly of the Digastric Muscle: Comparison of MRI and Ultrasound Measures

  • Phoebe R. Macrae
  • Richard D. Jones
  • Daniel J. Myall
  • Tracy R. Melzer
  • Maggie-Lee Huckabee
Original Article


Changes in morphometry of head and neck muscles have received little attention in research relative to limb muscles. While recent literature suggests that high-frequency ultrasound transducers can provide superior spatial resolution compared to that of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), no studies have compared these imaging methods for investigating the submental muscle group. This preliminary study sought to compare ultrasound and MRI as a method of quantifying the cross-sectional area (CSA) of the submental muscle group. Measurements were taken from coronal ultrasound and MRI images in 11 healthy participants. Comparisons were limited to the anterior belly of the digastric muscle because of differences in imaging resolution. Ultrasound CSA measurements were smaller than MRI measurements (p = 0.01) by 10 % (95 % CI = −18 to −2). Correlations were significant and relatively high (left: r = 0.909, p < 0.001; right: r = 0.776, p = 0.005). Ultrasound imaging has the advantages of natural participant positioning, superior clarity of muscle borders of the submental muscles, requires less acquisition time, and is a less expensive method of imaging compared to MRI. This preliminary study has shown that ultrasound is a viable imaging modality for quantitative measurements of the anterior belly of the digastric muscle and has advantages over MRI beyond cost and accessibility.


Deglutition Deglutition disorders Ultrasound Magnetic resonance imaging Submental muscles Cross-sectional area Suprahyoid muscles 



This research was conducted during the tenure of a Postgraduate Scholarship of the New Zealand Neurological Foundation. The manuscript was completed with the support of a Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga Doctoral Bridging Grant. The authors thank the Christchurch Radiology Group for the generous use of their ultrasound equipment, and Gareth Leeper and Simon Felton for their input regarding the MRI sequences. The authors also thank Professor Thomas Marquardt for the generous donation that made the MRI scans possible.

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phoebe R. Macrae
    • 1
  • Richard D. Jones
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Daniel J. Myall
    • 3
  • Tracy R. Melzer
    • 3
    • 4
  • Maggie-Lee Huckabee
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication DisordersUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  3. 3.New Zealand Brain Research InstituteChristchurchNew Zealand
  4. 4.Department of MedicineUniversity of OtagoChristchurchNew Zealand
  5. 5.Department of Medical Physics and BioengineeringCanterbury District Health BoardChristchurchNew Zealand

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