CT Neck

CT of the neck is a study of the neck region from the skull base (bottom of the head) to the lung apices (top of the chest). The spine, airway, carotid vessels and other vasculature as well as salivary and thyroid glands are included. Also, the mandible (jaw bone), oral cavity (mouth and tongue), pharynx and larynx (including the vocal cords or "voice box") are included.

Please note that although bones such as the spine and mandible are included, this study is not "dedicated" to these regions and is thus not as good as a dedicated spine or mandible study to evaluate these structures.

For CT neck as part of a PET/CT study, please see our page on PET/CT examinations.


There are a variety of indications for this study, based on the structure or pathology of interest. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Parotid or submandibular gland lesion or infection
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Pharyngeal/retropharyngeal or tonsillar abscess
  • Neck mass or abscess
  • Tongue mass or lesion
  • Foreign body in the neck or upper airway
  • Tumors or infections involving the vocal cords


  • As a general rule, this is a better study with contrast. 50-100cc of non-ionic contrast will be given. This is done through a large-bore IV, usually in the antecubital fossa.


With Contrast:

  • Only one CT contrast study should be scheduled within a 48 hour period.
  • BUN and creatinine must be done within 72 hours of the scan.
  • Nothing but clear liquid after midnight before the scan.
  • NO four hours prior to exam (no food or drink).


  • Generally not required, but may be indicated depending on the patient. Anesthesia on these studies always needs to be authorized by a radiologist.