Preliminary Diagnosis: Epiglottitis

I. What imaging technique is first-line for this diagnosis?

AP and lateral radiographic views of the soft tissues of the neck

II. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of this technique for diagnosis of epiglottitis.


  • Relatively inexpensive and fast imaging modality

  • Highly portable and exposes patients to minimal ionizing radiation

  • High sensitivity for diagnosis


  • Poor specificity for diagnosis

  • Limited in detailing and evaluating the surrounding soft tissues, osseous structures, and vascular structures

III. What are the contraindications for the first-line imaging technique?

  • No specific contraindications to plain radiography exist.

IV. What alternative imaging techniques are available?

  • CT imaging

V. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative techniques for diagnosis of epiglottitis.

CT imaging


  • Highly sensitive and specific in diagnosing epiglottis

  • Highly adept at characterizing any secondary complication.

  • More adept than plain radiography in detailing the surrounding soft tissue structures, osseous structures, and vasculature

  • May help direct any potential treatment and therapy


  • Exposure to ionizing radiation

VI. What are the contraindications for the alternative imaging techniques?

CT imaging

  • May be contraindicated in pregnant patients

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