Functional definitions of vocal fold geometry for laryngeal biomechanical modeling

Niro Tayama, Roger W. Chan, Kimitaka Kaga, Ingo R. Titze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Precise geometric data on vocal fold dimensions are necessary for defining the vocal fold boundaries with respect to the laryngeal framework in physiological and biomechanical models of the larynx (eg, finite-element models). In the mid-membranous coronal section, vocal fold depth can be defined as the horizontal distance from the vocal fold medial surface to the thyroid cartilage, whereas vocal fold thickness can be defined as the vertical distance from the inferior border of the thyroarytenoid muscle to the vocal fold superior surface. Traditionally, such geometric data have been obtained from measurements made on histologic tissue sections. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to obtain reliable data by this method, unless the effects of sample preparation on vocal fold geometry are quantified. Significant tissue deformations are often induced by histologic processes such as fixation and dehydration, sometimes producing shrinkages as large as 30%. In this study, reliable geometric data of the canine vocal fold were obtained by the alternative method of quick-freezing for sample preparation, using liquid nitrogen. Coronal sections of quick-frozen larynges were thawed gradually in saline solution. Images of the mid-membranous coronal sections at various thawing stages were captured by a digital camera. Measurements of operationally defined vocal fold dimensions (depth and thickness) useful for biomechanical modeling were made with a graphics software package. The results showed that geometric changes of the vocal fold induced by freezing are likely reversed by thawing, such that the measurements made on thawed larynges are reliable approximations of the actual vocal fold dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-92
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Biomechanical modeling
  • Quick-freezing
  • Thickness
  • Vocal fold depth
  • Vocal fold geometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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