Understanding the Lingual Frenulum: Histological Structure, Tissue Composition, and Implications for Tongue Tie Surgery

Nikki Mills, Donna T Geddes, Satya Amirapu, S. Ali Mirjalili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lingual frenotomy has become an increasingly common surgical procedure, performed for a broad range of indications from birth through adulthood. This study utilizes histology to define the structure and tissue composition of the lingual frenulum and floor of mouth (FOM) fascia. En bloc specimens of anterior tongue, lingual frenulum, and FOM tissues were harvested from ten embalmed adult cadavers. An additional three fresh tissue cadaveric specimens were frozen with the tongue supported in an elevated position, to enable harvesting and paraffin embedding of the elevated lingual frenulum as a discrete specimen. All 13 specimens were prepared as ten-micron coronal sections using stains to determine the general morphology of the lingual frenulum, its relationship to neighbouring structures (Mason's Trichrome), presence of elastin fibers (Verhoeff-van Gieson), and collagen typing (Picrosirius Red). Our results have shown a submucosal layer of fascia spanning horizontally across the FOM was present in all specimens, with variability in fascial thickness and histologic composition. This FOM fascia suspends the sublingual glands, vessels, and genioglossus from its deep surface. The elevated lingual frenulum is formed by a central fold of this FOM fascia together with the overlying oral mucosa with variability in fascial thickness and composition. With tongue elevation, the fascia mobilizes to a variable extent into the fold forming the frenulum, providing a structural explanation for the individual variability in lingual frenulum morphology seen in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1820978
JournalInternational Journal of Otolaryngology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding the Lingual Frenulum: Histological Structure, Tissue Composition, and Implications for Tongue Tie Surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this