Quantitative assessment of oral orbicular muscle deformation after cleft lip reconstruction: an ultrasound elastography study

C. de Korte, N. van Hees, R. Lopata, G. Weijers, C. Katsaros and J. Thijssen

Clinical Physics Laboratory, Department of Pediatrics, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands. c.dekorte@cukz.umcn.nl
Aug, 2009



Reconstruction of a cleft lip leads inevitably to scar tissue formation. Scar tissue within the restored oral orbicular muscle might be assessed by quantification of the local contractility of this muscle. Furthermore, information about the contraction capability of the oral orbicular muscle is crucial for planning the revision surgery of an individual patient. We used ultrasound elastography to determine the local deformation (strain) of the upper lip and to differentiate contracting muscle from passive scar tissue. Raw ultrasound data (radio-frequency format; rf-) were acquired, while the lips were brought from normal state into a pout condition and back in normal state, in three patients and three normal individuals. During this movement, the oral orbicular muscle contracts and, consequently, thickens in contrast to scar tissue that will not contract, or even expand. An iterative coarse-to-fine strain estimation method was used to calculate the local tissue strain. Analysis of the raw ultrasound data allows estimation of tissue strain with a high precision. The minimum strain that can be assessed reproducibly is 0.1\%. In normal individuals, strain of the orbicular oral muscle was in the order of 20\%. Also, a uniform strain distribution in the oral orbicular muscle was found. However, in patients deviating values were found in the region of the reconstruction and the muscle tissue surrounding that. In two patients with a successful reconstruction, strain was reduced by 6\% in the reconstructed region with respect to the normal parts of the muscle (from 22\% to 16\% and from 25\% to 19\%). In a patient with severe aesthetical and functional disability, strain decreased from 30\% in the normal region to 5\% in the reconstructed region. With ultrasound elastography, the strain of the oral orbicular muscle can be quantified. In healthy subjects, the strain profiles and maximum strain values in all parts of the muscle were similar. The maximum strain of the muscle during pout was 20\% +/- 1\%. In surgically repaired cleft lips, decreased deformation was observed.