Halitosis (or fetor oris) refers to the symptom of foul oral odour, commonly termed "bad breath", that patients can present with, usually to dental services.


It is thought to be caused by the presence of volatile sulphur compounds that are produced by bacteria. Although the underlying cause can be simple bacterial overgrowth it can have a variety of aetiologies including respiratory tract infection, liver failure, and renal disease, as well as the presence of a pharyngeal pouch.

Practical points

Halitosis does not require imaging on its own but imaging may be undertaken if there are other symptoms which raise the suspicion of an underlying cause other than bacterial overgrowth. This is usually in the form of a barium swallow or other fluoroscopic investigation.

Share article

Article information

rID: 39521
System: Head & Neck
Tag: refs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Fetor oris

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.

Alert accept

Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.