Accuracy of Palpation Procedures for Locating the C1 Transverse Process and Masseter Muscle as Confirmed by Computed Tomography Images

Published:September 26, 2022DOI:



      The purpose of this study was to examine the accuracy of palpation methods for locating the transverse processes of the first cervical vertebra and masseter muscle using radiographic images as the gold-standard method and the association between personal characteristics with the observed accuracy.


      This was a single-blinded, diagnostic accuracy study. Ninety-five participants (49 women, 58 ± 16 years of age) were enrolled in this study. A single examiner palpated the neck and face region of all participants to identify the transverse processes of the first cervical vertebra and masseter muscles bilaterally. In sequence, participants underwent a multislice computed tomography scan for assessment of the superimposed inner body structure. Two radiologists assessed the computed tomography images using the same criteria and were blinded regarding each other's assessment and the anatomic landmarks under investigation. The palpation accuracy was calculated as the proportion of the correctly identified landmarks in the studied sample. The correlation of the palpation outcome (correct = 1; incorrect = 0) with age, sex (male = 1; female = 0), and body mass index was investigated using the point-biserial correlation coefficient.


      The right and left transverse processes were correctly located in 76 (80%) and 81 (85%) participants, respectively, and bilaterally in 157 events (83%), as evaluated by the consensus of the 2 radiologists. The masseter muscles were correctly localized bilaterally in 95 of 95 (100%) participants. Body mass showed statistical evidence of a weak, positive correlation with the correct location of the transverse processes of the first cervical vertebra at the right body side (r = .219; 95% confidence interval, 0.018-0.403; P = .033).


      Palpation methods used in this study accurately identified the location of the first cervical vertebra spinous processes and the masseter muscles.

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