Odontogenic versus nonodontogenic deep neck space infections: CT manifestations

J Comput Assist Tomogr. 1997 Mar-Apr;21(2):202-8. doi: 10.1097/00004728-199703000-00006.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate deep neck space infection (DNSI) with particular attention to the differences in the spaces involved and in complications between odontogenic and nonodontogenic groups with CT.

Method: Forty-four patients (21 odontogenic and 23 nonodontogenic) were included in this study. Among odontogenic DNSI cases, 15 had dental infection in the second or third mandibular molar. We compared the CT features between odontogenic and nonodontogenic DNSI cases, with special emphasis on the differences in the spaces involved and in the rate and type of complications.

Results: In all patients, CT clearly differentiated abscess from cellulitis. The most common spaces involved in 21 patients with odontogenic DNSI were the parapharyngeal (n = 18), the submandibular (n = 18), the anterior visceral (n = 13), the masticator (n = 9), and the sublingual (n = 7) spaces. In contrast, in 23 patients with nonodontogenic DNSI, the anterior visceral space (n = 14) was most frequently involved. The parapharyngeal, submandibular, and masticator spaces were statistically more frequently involved in odontogenic than in nonodontogenic DNSI (p < 0.05). Twenty-two patients had one or more complications shown by CT, of which airway compromise was more frequent and severe in odontogenic than in nonodontogenic DNSI.

Conclusion: We conclude that the parapharyngeal, submandibular, and masticator spaces are more significantly vulnerable in odontogenic DNSI than in nonodontogenic DNSI. The predilection for certain spaces of the neck in odontogenic DNSI seems to originate from the intimate relationship of the mandibular molars to the adjacent deep neck spaces.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / complications
  • Abscess / diagnostic imaging*
  • Abscess / etiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cellulitis / complications
  • Cellulitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cellulitis / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Focal Infection, Dental / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*