Major motor atrophic patterns in the face and neck: CT evaluation

Radiology. 1985 Jun;155(3):665-70. doi: 10.1148/radiology.155.3.4001368.


Cranial nerve deficits from various pathologic processes of the head and neck may result in characteristic patterns of denervation muscular atrophy. Such atrophic patterns may be clues to the location and extent of the lesion, particularly when cranial nerves are involved early in the course of the disease process. Thirty-six patients with computed tomographic (CT) evidence of muscular atrophy secondary to pathologic conditions involving the motor division of cranial nerves were examined. Five characteristic denervation muscular atrophy patterns seen on CT scans were identified. In several patients, identification of the muscular atrophy pattern was the only clue to the presence of a pathologic condition. Recognition of these atrophic patterns can prevent misinterpretation of their CT appearance and direct the CT examination to the course of the compromised cranial nerve from the brainstem to its peripheral innervation.

MeSH terms

  • Accessory Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Accessory Nerve / pathology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cranial Nerves / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cranial Nerves / pathology
  • Facial Muscles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Facial Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Facial Nerve / pathology
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / complications
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Hypoglossal Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypoglossal Nerve / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Atrophy / diagnostic imaging*
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology
  • Muscular Atrophy / pathology
  • Neck / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Trigeminal Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Trigeminal Nerve / pathology
  • Vagus Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Vagus Nerve / pathology