Nasopharyngeal cystic lesions: Tornwaldt and mucous retention cysts of the nasopharynx: Findings on MR imaging

Kotaro Sekiya, Memi Watanabe, Rohini N. Nadgir, Karen Buch, Elisa N. Flower, Takashi Kaneda, Osamu Sakai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE: Nasopharyngeal cystic lesions are commonly encountered on magnetic resonance imaging with significantly overlapped imaging characteristics. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and distinguishing imaging features of cystic lesions in the nasopharynx in the largest patient series to date. METHODS: After institutional review board approval, consecutive head magnetic resonance images of 3000 patients performed at 1.5 T between June 2010 and April 2011 were retrospectively reviewed for cystic nasopharyngeal lesions. Location, size, and signal characteristic of cystic lesions were recorded. Electronic medical records were reviewed for patient demographics, symptoms, and underlying conditions. RESULTS: Among 3000 patients, 6% had Tornwaldt cysts (peak prevalence, 51-60 years old) and 10% had mucous retention cysts (peak prevalence, 41-50 years old). A significant correlation between human immunodeficiency virus infection and mucous retention cysts was observed (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of Tornwaldt cysts was slightly higher than previously described in the literature. Additionally, younger and older patients had the lowest prevalence of Tornwaldt cyst, suggesting these lesions are acquired and subsequently involute with time. A significant correlation was observed between human immunodeficiency virus infection and mucous retention cysts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-13
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of computer assisted tomography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014



  • HIV
  • Mucous retention cyst
  • Nasopharynx
  • Tornwaldt cyst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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