Abstract Objectives: The hypoglossal nerve (HN) represents an important
stimulation target for treating obstructive sleep apnea. Here, we
demonstrate use of diagnostic ultrasound to identify and track the HN,
including its distal branches. Methods: Standard ultrasound imaging,
supplemented with Doppler ultrasound, was used on five participants to
identify the HN from its proximal aspect adjacent to the carotid artery
to its branching in the submandibular space. Participants were between
the ages of 21-25 and were imaged at the University of Washington.
Results: We successfully imaged and tracked the HN, including the main
distal branches, and identified relevant landmarks in all five
participants. We observed the greatest variance in HN structure near the
mandibular branch point, as well as variable manifestation of the first
cervical spinal nerve. Conclusion: Diagnostic ultrasound, with Doppler,
can identify and track the HN, including to its distal branches. This
technique may improve surgical planning for head and neck procedures
including the placement of stimulation devices for the HN.