[Pretherapeutic and posttherapeutic laryngeal imaging]

Radiologe. 2009 Jan;49(1):43-58. doi: 10.1007/s00117-008-1765-z.
[Article in German]


Cross-sectional imaging with CT, MRI and more recently PET CT plays an indispensable complementary role to endoscopy in the pretherapeutic diagnostic and staging of laryngeal neoplasms and in the evaluation of the operated or irradiated larynx. Adequate interpretation of the CT, PET CT and MR images requires a thorough knowledge of the patterns of submucosal spread and familiarity with the diagnostic signs of neoplastic invasion as seen with each modality. In addition, one should be aware of the implications of imaging for staging and treatment. Both CT and MR imaging are highly sensitive for the detection of neoplastic invasion of the preepiglottic and paraglottic spaces, subglottic region and cartilage. The high negative predictive value of both CT and MRI allows a relatively reliable exclusion of neoplasm cartilage invasion. The specificity of both CT and MRI is, however, moderately high and both methods may, therefore, overestimate the extent of tumor spread. However, recent investigations have shown that the specificity of MRI may be significantly improved by using new diagnostic criteria which allow differentiation of tumor from peritumoral inflammation in many instances. Both cross-sectional imaging methods also significantly improve the pretherapeutic staging accuracy of laryngeal tumors if used in addition to clinical examination and endoscopic biopsy. In the presence of a submucosal mass, CT and MRI play a key role for the diagnosis, as they may characterize the lesion, reliably depict its submucosal extent and guide the endoscopist to perform deep biopsies which allow the definitive histological diagnosis. Cross-sectional imaging also plays a key role in the evaluation of laryngoceles, recurrent laryngeal nerve paralysis and fractures.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery*
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Laryngeal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Laryngeal Diseases / pathology
  • Laryngeal Diseases / surgery
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Laryngectomy
  • Larynx / injuries
  • Larynx / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis*
  • Postoperative Complications / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Contrast Media