Speech and Palate Imaging

Our research programme in the development and implementation of MRI protocols for the management of cleft palate patients is funded by Barts and the London Charity and CLEFT.

Real time MRI of speech

The 2nd arm of the project centers around real-time imaging of the soft palate during speech. In the first phase of the research, we have focussed our efforts on a mid-sagittal imaging plane, leading to a similar view obtained with the current clinical gold standard, x-ray videofluoroscopy.

The soft-palate can easily be delineated in every image and velopharyngeal closure is easy to assess. We have optimised sequences at both 1.5T and 3T. The series of images below is extracted from dynamic series acquired on two MRI scanners (1.5T and 3.0T field strengths) using 4 combinations of spatial and temporal resolution. Spatial resolution decreases from left to right, from 1.6mm to 2.7mm and temporal resolution (or frame rate) correspondingly increases from 9 to 20 frames per second. Images are shown from times when the subject was in the relaxed palate position (nasal breathing) and in the elevated palate position (saying “Ah”). Spatial detail decreases with decreasing spatial resolution (left to right), but information regarding palate motion increases, although this is not evident in these static images. Field