Osteoradionecrosis of the hyoid bone: Imaging findings

J. S. Yoo, D. I. Rosenthal, K. Mitchell, Lawrence E. Ginsberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: ORN is a postradiation complication that has been well-documented in the medical literature. Most cases in the head and neck have been described in the mandible or larynx. Only a handful of cases in the hyoid bone are documented, all in the clinical literature. Our purpose is to present the clinical and imaging features of ORN involving the hyoid bone. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We present a case series of 13 patients with imaging findings highly suggestive of hyoid ORN after radiation therapy for head and neck cancers, in which we observed progressive features of hyoid disruption along with adjacent soft-tissue ulceration. RESULTS: Pretreatment imaging, when available, showed a normal hyoid. Typical postradiation imaging findings included an initial tongue base ulcerative lesion with air approaching the hyoid bone, and subsequent observation of hyoid fragmentation, often with intraosseous or peri-hyoid air and the absence of associated mass-like enhancement. CONCLUSIONS: Findings of hyoid fragmentation, cortical disruption, and soft tissue or intraosseous air in the postradiation therapy patient should strongly suggest the diagnosis of hyoid ORN. It is important recognize this entity because the diagnosis may preclude potentially harmful diagnostic intervention and allow more appropriate therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-766
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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