Edema in the retropharyngeal space associated with head and neck tumors: CT imaging characteristics

Noriko Kurihara, Shoki Takahashi, Shuichi Higano, Mamoru Nakamura, Masashi Tsuda, Haruo Saito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


To determine computed tomographic (CT) imaging characteristics of retropharygeal edema, we reviewed CT images in 18 patients with head and neck tumors. Retropharyngeal edema spread craniocaudally between soft palate and upper half of thyroid cartilage in all patients. No edema fluid extended above soft palate and below thyroid cartilage. Horizontally, it spread symmetrically in ten and asymmetrically in eight patients. Predominance in asymmetrical retropharyngeal edema was found on the same side as that of unilateral predominance both in lymph nodes enlargement and jugular vein stenosis/occlusion. All patients had edema also in other cervical spaces. Edema of retropharyngeal and other spaces fluctuated synchronously. In 14 patients, as primary lesion and/or cervical lymph nodes regressed, retropharyngeal edema disappeared or decreased. Retropharyngeal edema had some imaging characteristics. With knowledge of that, we could avoid diagnostic confusion when evaluating head and neck CT images.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-615
Number of pages7
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Aug


  • CT
  • Edema
  • Head and neck tumors
  • Retropharyngeal space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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