A radiologic review of hoarse voice from anatomic and neurologic perspectives.Insights Imaging. 2019 Nov 18; 10(1):108.II
The differential diagnosis for hoarseness is extensive and includes a multitude of etiologies that span a large geographic area from the brainstem to the mediastinum. Therefore, localizing a causative lesion can be extremely difficult for clinicians and radiologists alike. In this review, we will first discuss the normal anatomy of the larynx and its innervation via the vagus and recurrent laryngeal nerves. We will then proceed with a guided tour of the various infectious/inflammatory, neoplastic, congenital, and traumatic/iatrogenic causes of hoarseness subdivided by anatomic location (brainstem, skull base, carotid sheath, thyroid, larynx, and superior mediastinum). Along the way, we will discuss the various cross-sectional imaging modalities best suited to detect the often subtle signs of recurrent laryngeal nerve injury. With thorough knowledge of these entities, radiologists can impact patient care by suggesting the appropriate imaging test and tailoring their search patterns to detect the subtle findings of laryngeal dysfunction.