Anatomy word of the month: Uvula

May 1, 2012 —

Say_AhhhThe little fleshy appendage hanging from the back of your soft palate is called the “little grape” in Latin. As part of the palate the uvula helps seal off your nasal cavity from your throat cavity during swallowing. This works very well, except when you vomit! When the doctor asks you to say “aaah”, he or she wants to see the uvula in the midline. If it is deviated or pulled to one side, this may be a sign of paralysis of one side of your throat muscles.


Dr. Dyche was born in New Jersey and trained at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center before coming to Des Moines in 1976. Over 30 plus years he has taught gross anatomy, embryology and neuroanatomy. He also served in administration as associate dean for basic sciences, dean of the College of Health Sciences, and acting director of the PA program. He was one of the founding instructors of CPR and ACLS at a time when few medical schools offered this training. He retired to Oregon in 2008, then returned to DMU in 2009. Did he miss the tornadoes, the below zero wind chills or the cadavers?

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