What anatomy of the palate is relevant for the performance of uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)?

Updated: Dec 09, 2020
  • Author: Eelam Aalia Adil, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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The soft palate marks the beginning of the oropharynx and it is the mobile posterior third of the palate. It forms an incomplete septum between the oral cavity and the pharynx. It is marked by a median raphe and is continuous with the roof of the mouth and the mucous membrane of the nasal floor (see the image below).

Hard and soft palate anatomy. A: transverse rugae Hard and soft palate anatomy. A: transverse rugae of hard palate; B: median raphe of hard palate; C: median raphe of soft palate.

When the soft palate is relaxed, its anterior surface is concave and its posterior surface is convex. The anterior aponeurotic portion is attached to the posterior border of the hard palate, and the posterior muscular portion hangs between the mouth and the pharynx and is termed the palatine velum (or velopharynx).

The velum is prolonged by a median free process termed the uvula and 2 bilateral processes termed the palatoglossal and palatopharyngeal arches or pillars, which join the soft palate to the tongue and pharynx, respectively. The fauces represent the space between the oral cavity and the oropharynx. They are bounded superiorly by the soft palate, inferiorly by the root of the tongue, and laterally by the pillars of the fauces.

For more information about the relevant anatomy, see Mouth Anatomy, Throat Anatomy, Tonsil and Adenoid Anatomy, and Pharynx Anatomy.

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