Ultrasound of the neck

Radiol Clin North Am. 2000 Sep;38(5):1029-45. doi: 10.1016/s0033-8389(05)70219-0.


Sonography, when performed by an experienced examiner, can be used for evaluation of many pathologies in the head and neck area. Some benign neck lesions, such as cysts, lipomas, carotid body tumors, and hyperplastic lymph nodes, have typical sonomorphology. Sonography has an accuracy rate of about 90% in cervical lymph node staging and can delineate subclinical lymph node recurrences. It is the method of choice for evaluation of tumor infiltrations of the wall of the great vessels. Salivary gland tumors in the superficial lobe can be delineated completely by sonography. Salivary stones can be detected and localized. Carcinoma of the tongue and floor of the mouth with T1 and T2 staging can be assessed by US. The use and contribution of color Doppler sonography for the assessment of pathologic entities in the neck is a method under clinical investigation. US-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy of lymph nodes and tumors of the salivary glands is easy to perform and is characterized by high sensitivity and specificity. To perform US examinations of the head and neck area of the highest quality the examiner should be familiar with the anatomy of the head and neck, be informed about the clinical problem, and have experience in the interpretation of abnormal US findings. US of the head and neck area is one of the most difficult sonographic examinations and should be performed by an experienced physician.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Carotid Body Tumor / diagnostic imaging
  • Cysts / diagnostic imaging
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymphatic Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Neck / diagnostic imaging*
  • Salivary Gland Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional