Head and Neck Imaging

Imaging of the head and neck can be a real challenge for the beginning radiologist as well as other physicians taking care of patients with disease of the ear, skull base, face, and neck soft tissues. The anatomy is challenging because it is small and complex, and many of the disease processes are quite subtle. To address this challenge, you should have some strategic approaches to the anatomy and pathology that is present in this area.

Temporal bone

One of the common challenges to the beginning radiologist is the temporal bone. It is small, hard to see, and the range of pathology that can affect it is highly varied and complex. When approaching the temporal bone, it is great to have a strategic approach to how you look at the scan as well as an expectation of what the common pathologies are.

Adult Temporal Bone CT search pattern

When approaching the temporal bone, it is great to have a strategy for how you go through the images. We advocate an outside-in approach, where you start at the external auditory canal and move medially into the middle ear, inner ear, and internal auditory canal. An easy way to do this is on the coronal images, although you can take the same approach on axial images. This type of structured approach will give you the best chances of success in finding pathology and learning normal anatomy.


Head and Neck Cases

If you want to see all of the head and neck related pages and cases, click here.



Head and neck imaging is challenging for all physicians from the new resident to the seasoned veteran. Practice and correlation with clinical findings helps, and hopefully you found these resources useful.