A1 Journal article – refereed

Clinical and prognostic significance of emergency MRI findings in neck infections

List of Authors: Heikkinen Jaakko, Nurminen Janne, Velhonoja Jarno, Irjala Heikki, Happonen Tatu, Soukka Tero, Mattila Kimmo, Hirvonen Jussi

Publisher: SPRINGER

Publication year: 2021

Journal: European Radiology

Journal name in source: EUROPEAN RADIOLOGY

Journal acronym: EUR RADIOL

Number of pages: 9

ISSN: 0938-7994

eISSN: 1432-1084

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00330-021-08200-5



Due to its superior soft-tissue contrast and ability to delineate abscesses, MRI has high diagnostic accuracy in neck infections. Whether MRI findings can predict the clinical course in these patients is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the clinical and prognostic significance of various MRI findings in emergency patients with acute neck infections.

Materials and methods

We retrospectively reviewed the 3-T MRI findings of 371 patients with acute neck infections from a 5-year period in a single tertiary emergency radiology department. We correlated various MRI findings, including retropharyngeal (RPE) and mediastinal edema (ME) and abscess diameter, to clinical findings and outcomes, such as the need for intensive care unit (ICU) treatment and length of hospital stay (LOS).


A total of 201 out of 371 patients (54%) with neck infections showed evidence of RPE, and 81 out of 314 patients (26%) had ME. Both RPE (OR = 9.5, p < 0.001) and ME (OR = 5.3, p < 0.001) were more prevalent among the patients who required ICU treatment than among those who did not. In a multivariate analysis, C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, RPE, and maximal abscess diameter were independent predictors of the need for ICU treatment, and CRP, ME, and maximal abscess diameter were independent predictors of LOS.


In patients with an acute neck infection that requires emergency imaging, RPE, ME, and abscess diameter, as shown by MRI, are significant predictors of a more severe illness.

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Last updated on 2021-15-09 at 10:48