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Anat Rec. 2000 Dec 1;260(4):378-86.

Functional anatomy of the hypoglossal innervated muscles of the rat tongue: a model for elongation and protrusion of the mammalian tongue.

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1
Department of Anatomy, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23298, USA. jmcclung@hsc.vcu.edu

Abstract

This anatomical investigation in the rat was designed to illustrate the detailed organization of the tongue's muscles and their innervation in order to elucidate the actions of the muscles of the higher mammalian tongue and thereby clarify the protrusor subdivision of the hypoglossal-tongue complex. The hypoglossal innervated, extrinsic styloglossus, hyoglossus, and genioglossus and the intrinsic transversus, verticalis and longitudinalis linguae muscles were observed by microdissection and analysis of serial transverse-sections of the tongue. Sihler's staining technique was applied to whole rat tongues to demonstrate the hypoglossal nerve branching patterns. Dissections of the tongue demonstrate the angles at which the extrinsic muscles act on the base of the tongue. The Sihler stained hypoglossal nerves demonstrate branches to the styloglossus and hyoglossus emanating from its lateral division while branches to the genioglossus muscle exit from its medial division. The largest portions of both XIIth nerve divisions can be seen to enter the body of the tongue to innervate the intrinsic muscles. Transverse sections of the tongue demonstrate the organization of the intrinsic muscle fibers of the tongue. Longitudinal muscle fibers run along the entire circumference of the tongue. Alternating sheets of transverse lingual and vertical lingual muscles can be observed to insert into the circumference of the tongue. Most importantly in clarifying tongue protrusion, we demonstrate the transversus muscle fibers enveloping the most superior and inferior portions of the longitudinalis muscles. Longitudinal muscle fascicles are completely encircled and thus are likely to be compressed by transverse muscle fascicles resulting in elongation of the tongue. We discuss our findings in relation to biomechanical studies, that describe the tongue as a muscular hydrostat and thereby define the "elongation-protrusion apparatus" of the mammalian tongue. In so doing, we clarify the functional organization of the hypoglossal-tongue complex.

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