In these images, neck soft tissues are visualized. The parotid, submandibular and sublingual salivary glands are displayed on certain images of CT neck scans. The thyroid gland, and the trachea are also seen well on neck CT. Enlarged lymph nodes in neck CT are better seen on CT rather than MRI, especially when IV contrast is used. The carotid arteries and vertebral arteries are commonly scanned in CT angiography of the neck to look for arterial stenosis or narrowing of the carotid arteries. Ultrasound is also used when assessing for carotid artery stenosis.
To view the bones of the neck for neck fracture, the term “cervical spine” is used. This term differentiates between scanning for bone fractures from soft tissues abnormalities.
scanning is superior to MRI when looking for neck fractures of the vertebrae themselves.
There are clear reasons why the benefits of
CT vs MRI
can complement each other: MRI is superior over CT when the need to see the spinal cord is necessary. This is often the case when CT and MRI will both be used in many situations for assessing neck injury: CT for bone fractures and MRI for spinal cord injury. Both are used and both are needed.