Discovering a new anatomy: exploration of oral mucosa with ultra-high frequency ultrasound

Rossana Izzetti, Saverio Vitali, Giacomo Aringhieri, Teresa Oranges, Valentina Dini, Marco Nisi, Filippo Graziani, Mario Gabriele, Davide Caramella
Dentomaxillofacial Radiology2020
Objectives: Ultra-high frequency ultrasound (UHFUS) is a recently developed diagnostic technique involving the use of ultrasound frequencies up to 70 MHz, allowing to obtain 30 µm resolution of targets located within 1 cm from the surface. Oral mucosa can be affected by diverse pathological conditions, which are currently investigated by means of clinical examination. In this scenario, intraoral UHFUS can provide additional information and support clinical assessment of oral mucosa. In this preliminary study, typical features of normal oral mucosa are described, in order to set a benchmark for the future identification of oral soft tissue alterations. Methods: Twenty healthy subjects (10 males and 10 females, mean age 30 years) were enrolled and underwent intraoral UHFUS examination. In all the subjects, tongue, buccal mucosa, gingiva, lip mucosa, and palate were scanned, and images acquired. Intraoral UHFUS scan included Brightness-mode and Doppler mode acquisitions performed with a standardized protocol. UHFUS images were postprocessed and analyzed using a dedicated software. UHFUS-based biomarkers (epithelial thickness, echogenicity, and vascularization) were employed for image description. Results: Normal oral anatomy of the different sites analyzed was described. For all the sites, UHFUS biomarkers were characterized, and information on typical aspect of oral mucosa were retrieved. Conclusions: In this explorative study, we suggest a potential role for intraoral UHFUS in the study of oral mucosa, giving insights into the possibility to improve the assessment, diagnosis, and management of the conditions involving oral mucosa. UHFUS seems a promising tool, which could potentially support clinical examination in daily oral medicine practice.
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