Ranulas and their mimics: CT evaluation

Radiology. 1987 Apr;163(1):211-6. doi: 10.1148/radiology.163.1.3823437.


The spectrum of computed tomographic (CT) findings in ten patients with pathologically proved simple and diving ranulas is reviewed. These retention cysts originate within the sublingual space from obstruction of the sublingual or minor salivary glands; when they enlarge, the cysts herniate to involve the submandibular and inferior parapharyngeal spaces (the so-called diving or plunging ranula). CT findings in 38 additional patients with a variety of cystic lesions in the floor of the mouth are contrasted with findings in cases of ranulas. The relevant anatomy is reviewed. This experience indicates that a unilocular, cystic mass emanating from the sublingual space and extending into the adjacent submandibular and/or inferior parapharyngeal spaces can be considered a diving ranula in virtually all cases. A unilocular, cystic mass entirely within the sublingual space can be considered a simple ranula in most instances, although absolute distinction between a simple ranula and an epidermoid cyst cannot be made radiographically.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Mouth Abnormalities / diagnostic imaging
  • Mouth Floor
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiography
  • Ranula / diagnostic imaging*
  • Salivary Gland Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Sublingual Gland / diagnostic imaging*