Ultrasound Characteristics of Non-endocrine Cervical Pathology

  • Caitlin P. McMullenEmail author
  • Daniel Rocke
  • Jean-François Cléroux
  • Sangeet Ghai
  • Jeremy L. Freeman


Ultrasound in the head and neck has utility beyond evaluation of thyroid and parathyroid disorders. It offers a low-cost method of evaluating congenital lesions like branchial cleft anomalies, dysontogenetic cysts, and thyroglossal duct cysts. Given that these lesions are often found in younger patients, ultrasound has the advantage of not exposing the patient to ionizing radiation and does not require sedation as might sometimes be required with MRI. Ultrasound can also be a useful modality in evaluating benign neoplastic lesions of the head and neck such as lipomas, schwannomas, benign salivary gland tumors, and vascular anomalies. Though it is often not the most common modality used, malignant non-thyroid lesions, including squamous cell carcinoma—the most common metastatic neck mass—lymphoma, and salivary gland malignancies, are also easily evaluated with ultrasound. Inflammatory conditions such as sarcoidosis and sialadenitis and acquired conditions like laryngoceles can also be adequately evaluated with ultrasound.


Congenital neck mass Benign neck mass Malignant metastatic neck mass Lymphoma Sialadenitis Sialolithiasis Benign salivary tumor Malignant salivary tumor Reactive lymph node Laryngocele Ranula Hemangioma Ultrasound Pleomorphic adenoma Warthin tumor Thyroglossal duct cyst Dermoid tumor Schwannoma Teratoma Epidermoid cyst Paraganglioma Sarcoidosis Sjogren’s syndrome Autoimmune salivary disease Cervical spine Transverse process Heerfordt syndrome Lymphangioma Venous malformation 

Supplementary material

Video 23.1

This is a typical axial ultrasound view of a thyroglossal duct cyst. This midline lesion has well-defined borders and is uniformly hypoechoic (MP4 1680 kb)

Video 23.2

This uniform, hypoechoic lesion sits just under the sternocleidomastoid muscle and represents a brachial cleft cyst (MP4 3989 kb)

Video 23.3

This regular, isoechoic lesion is typical of a schwannoma (MP4 1214 kb)

Video 23.4

This axial ultrasound view of a hemangioma demonstrates a relatively superficial, mixed iso- to hyperechoic lesion (MP4 787 kb)

Video 23.5

This video demonstrates classic features of salivary gland pleomorphic adenoma. The lesion is lobular and hypoechoic and demonstrates posterior enhancement (MP4 2003 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caitlin P. McMullen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Daniel Rocke
    • 3
  • Jean-François Cléroux
    • 4
    • 5
  • Sangeet Ghai
    • 5
  • Jeremy L. Freeman
    • 2
  1. 1.TorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Mount Sinai HospitalUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Surgery, Division of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication SciencesDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  4. 4.TorontoCanada
  5. 5.Jt Department of Medical ImagingUniversity Health Network – Mt Sinai Hospital – Women’s College Hospital, University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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