ZocdocAnswersDoes sinus CT show the Nasopharynx?

Question

Does sinus CT show the Nasopharynx?

Hi, I have persistent stuffness in one of my nostrils and am told I have eustachain tube dysfunction. I worry that this could be due to nasopharyngeal cancer. Some time ago, I had a sinus CT scan done and results were normal. Would this scan have detected nasopharyngeal cancer? Thanks!

Answer

I am sorry to hear that you have persistent nasal obstruction on one side and that you are worried that it may be related to a nasopharyngeal carcinoma. I am happy to give you some information on the matter, but ultimately I am going to recommend that you make an appointment to be evaluated by an ENT (Ear Nose Throat physician) or otolaryngologist to get evaluated. They will be able to take a thorough history to see if you have any risk factors for nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and also examine you thoroughly to see if there are any abnormalities. As far as your question about a CT sinus being able to visualize the nasopharynx, the short answer is yes. However, a CT sinus is designed to visualize the bone anatomy of the sinuses, skull base, orbits, and septum, and is not optimal for visualizing soft tissue. While soft tissue can often be seen on CT scans, typically this is done with contrast, which is not typically given (since the physician ordering a sinus CT is interested more in the bone anatomy, then the soft tissue). An MRI would be much better at visualizing soft tissue (which a nasopharyngeal carcinoma would be). Also an ENT should visualize your nasopharynx (with a small scope) to make sure that there are no mucosal abnormalities. I hope that this information helps, and I wish you all the best at your ENT visit.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.