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What can X-rays reveal in a picture of the throat?

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Medical professionals use X-ray pictures of the neck to find or diagnose fractured or broken bones in the neck, swelling of the airway, bone tumors or cysts, and joint dislocations, according to Healthline. X-rays of the neck can also show thinning of the bones in the neck as a result of osteoporosis, bone spurs or abnormal growths, spinal deformities, and croup, which appears on an X-ray as swelling around the vocal chords.

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Other conditions or diseases X-rays of the neck can help diagnoses include cervical spondylosis, which appears on an X-ray as chronic wear of the disks and joints in the neck, inflammation of the epiglottitis, which is the tissue that covers the windpipe, foreign objects stuck in the throat or airway, and enlarged tonsils and adenoids, states Healthline.

An X-ray of the neck uses a form of radiation to take an image of the cervical vertebrae, vocal cords, tonsils, adenoids, trachea and epiglottis, reports Healthline. Bones appear as white on an X-ray, and blood vessels, skin, fat and muscle, which are less dense than bone, appear in shades of gray.

A medical professional may order an X-ray for symptoms such as noisy breathing, barking cough, hoarseness, obstructive sleep apnea, excessive snoring, and recurrent sinus and ear infections, explains KidsHealth. An X-ray can also help diagnose retropharyngeal abscess, which is an infection of the part of the neck behind the throat.

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