Retropharyngeal pseudothickening

Last revised by Ciléin Kearns on 10 Jan 2023

Retropharyngeal pseudothickening is a mimic of retropharyngeal soft tissue thickening caused by neck flexion (which may also exacerbate airway obstruction), swallowing, or expiration.

It is important to consider when evaluating lateral cervical radiographs and sagittal cross-sectional imaging for airway obstruction, particularly in children 1,2.

Differential diagnosis

Pathologic causes of retropharyngeal or prevertebral soft tissue swelling should be considered, including:

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