Fat Pads of the Head and Neck: An Imaging Review

S.H. Patel, P.C. Louden, J.H. Donahue, S. Mukherjee, M.J. Hoch, M.E. Cunnane, H.D. Curtin, and M. Hagiwara

View Article on Neurographics Website

Date of Activity Release: Apr. 1, 2018
Date of Activity Expiration: Apr. 1, 2021

Target Audience:
Intended for neuroradiologists and neuroradiology trainees with varying degrees of experience.

Learning Objective:
Understand the anatomy and pathologic significance of head and neck fat pads.

A natural aid to the detection and mapping of head and neck pathology is the normal fatty tissue planes in the head and neck. Many critical sites in the head and neck, including at the foramina of most cranial nerves and the submucosal spaces of the cervical aerodigestive tract, normally contain fatty tissue, therefore, inspection of these “fat pads” is an important task for the radiologist when characterizing head and neck diseases. The purpose of this article was to review clinically relevant fat pads and fat planes in the head and neck. We discussed fat pads at the skull base (pterygopalatine fossa, orbital fissures, trigeminal fat pad, stylomastoid foramen), fat pads in the face (periantral fat, mandibular foramen, buccal fat pad), the parapharyngeal space, the retropharyngeal space, and the submucosal spaces of the supraglottic larynx (preepiglottic and paraglottic fat). The anatomy and pertinent pathologic entities were described for each site. A concluding discussion reviewed technical issues that pertain to the imaging of these sites.

Commercial Support
No commercial support was received for this activity.

Credit Designation Statement

The American Society of Neuroradiology is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The American Society of Neuroradiology designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Method of Physician Participation:
Each participant will review the corresponding Neurographics article located at Upon completion, each physician will complete and pass a post-test with a score of at least 80% to receive a CME certificate.

All individuals in control of content have disclosed the following relevant financial relationships. All of these relationships were treated as a conflict of interest, and have been resolved (C7 SCS 6.1-6.2, 6.5)

Authors have no relevant financial relationships.





Barton Branstetter 

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Deputy Editor

Royalties, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins

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Consulting Editor

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Associate Editor

Non-remunerative position, AUR6

Meng Law

Associate Editor

Stockholder, Clinical Imaging

Edward Escott

Associate Editor

Grant, Atherysys, Inc.; Royalties, Thieme Medical Publishers

Scott Faro

Associate Editor

None, N/A

Tina Young Poussaint

Associate Editor

None, N/A

Dheeraj Ghandi

Associate Editor

Grant, Arstasis, Axera Inc.; Consultant, Covidien, EV3

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