MRI analysis of the size and shape of the oropharynx in chronic whiplash

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Objectives: To quantify differences in the size/shape of the oropharynx between female subjects with whiplash and controls. Design: Retrospective cohort. Methods: A total of 113 subjects (79 whiplash, 34 controls) were included. T1-weighted MRI was used to measure 1) cross-sectional area (CSA [mm2]) and 2) shape ratios for the oropharynx. Reliability data were established. Results: Whiplash subjects had significantly smaller oropharynx CSAs (P < 0.001) and shape ratios (P < 0.001) compared with healthy controls. Self-reported levels of pain and disability and duration of symptoms were not associated with size and shape of the oropharynx in whiplash subjects (P = 0.75 and P = 0.99, respectively). Age and BMI did influence the size (P = 0.01) and shape of the oropharynx (P < 0.001) in the whiplash subjects, but only 20 to 30 percent of the variance could be explained by these factors. Conclusion: Significant difference in the size and shape of the oropharynx was noted in subjects with chronic whiplash compared with controls. Future studies are required to investigate the relationships between oropharynx morphometry and symptoms in patients with chronic whiplash. © 2008 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation.

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