Multidetector CT of Laryngeal Injuries: Principles of Injury Recognition

Radiographics. 2019 May-Jun;39(3):879-892. doi: 10.1148/rg.2019180076. Epub 2019 Apr 12.


Blunt laryngeal trauma is associated with high morbidity and mortality. However, owing to their relatively rare occurrence, laryngeal injuries may be missed or underdiagnosed. Even subtle abnormalities at multidetector CT may correspond to significant functional abnormalities. It is important to understand normal CT laryngeal anatomy and develop a systematic review of the cervical soft tissues and laryngeal skeleton in patients who undergo screening CT cervical spine or other neck examinations in the setting of trauma, such as CT angiography. Multidetector CT findings of the normal larynx are reviewed, and blunt laryngeal injuries including soft-tissue edema, hematoma, mucosal lacerations, cartilage fracture, cricoarytenoid dislocation, and vocal fold paralysis are presented. The radiologist plays an important role in diagnosis and may be the first to identify laryngeal injuries that are not evident at physical examination. This article reviews normal laryngeal anatomy, presents various blunt laryngeal injuries at multidetector CT with case examples, discusses the role of multidetector CT in acute management, and describes pitfalls of diagnosis. ©RSNA, 2019.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects
  • Laryngeal Cartilages / diagnostic imaging
  • Laryngeal Cartilages / injuries
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Larynx / anatomy & histology
  • Larynx / diagnostic imaging
  • Larynx / injuries*
  • Male
  • Multidetector Computed Tomography / methods*
  • Neck Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnostic imaging*
  • Young Adult