BACKGROUND: Synkinetic patients often fail to produce a satisfactory smile because of antagonistic action of a hypertonic depressor anguli oris muscle and concomitantly weak depressor labii inferioris muscle. This study investigated their neurovascular anatomy to partially explain this paradoxical depressor anguli oris hypertonicity and depressor labii inferioris hypotonicity and delineated consistent anatomical landmarks to assist in depressor anguli oris muscle injection and myectomy. METHODS: Ten hemifaces from five fresh human cadavers were dissected to delineate the neurovascular supply of the depressor anguli oris and depressor labii inferioris muscles in addition to the depressor anguli oris muscle relation to consistent anatomical landmarks. RESULTS: The depressor anguli oris muscle received innervation from both lower buccal and marginal mandibular facial nerve branches, whereas the depressor labii inferioris muscle was solely innervated by marginal mandibular branches. The mandibular depressor anguli oris origin was on average 39 mm wide, and its medial and lateral borders were located 17 mm from the symphysis and 41 mm from the mandibular angle, respectively. The depressor anguli oris fibers consistently passed anterior to the first mandibular molar toward their insertion into the modiolus, which was located 10 mm lateral and 10 mm caudal to the oral commissure. CONCLUSIONS: Depressor anguli oris muscle dual innervation versus depressor labii inferioris single innervation may explain why depressor anguli oris hypertonicity and depressor labii inferioris weakness are commonly observed concomitantly in synkinetic patients. Based on treatment goals, diagnostic percutaneous injection with lidocaine can be performed on the depressor anguli oris muscle along a cutaneous line from the modiolus to the mandibular first molar border, and an intraoral depressor anguli oris myectomy can be performed along that same transmucosal line.
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