Neck neoplasms: MR imaging. Part II. Posttreatment evaluation

Radiology. 1986 Aug;160(2):349-54. doi: 10.1148/radiology.160.2.3726112.


Thirty-three patients who had undergone prior surgery and/or radiation therapy for malignant neoplasms of the neck were studied with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Twenty-seven of these patients were also evaluated with computed tomography (CT). Ten patients were healthy posttreatment volunteers, and 23 had documented tumor recurrence. MR images better demonstrated normal muscular landmarks, especially in patients with obliterated fat planes. Areas of posttreatment fibrosis or scarring were low in signal intensity with all MR pulse sequences. However, in three patients, high signal intensity from postradiation edema of the supraglottic area mimicked neoplasm. In patients with recurrent tumor, MR imaging was superior to CT in defining the relationship of tumor and muscle and in demonstrating vascular anatomy when no intravenous contrast material was given during the CT examination. In two patients tumor and fibrosis were separated on MR images because of signal intensity differences. CT scans, however, showed adjacent bone and cartilage anatomy better. Our data indicate that an MR examination may be helpful in patients in whom CT is indeterminate either because of anatomical distortion or suboptimal demonstration of vascular anatomy.

MeSH terms

  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed