Danger space

The danger space is a deep compartment of the head and neck located behind the true retropharyngeal space and extending into the mediastinum.

As it has no specific contents and is usually indistinguishable from the true retropharyngeal space on imaging, the danger space is often subsumed into descriptions of a single retropharyngeal space/compartment 4.

In healthy patients, it is indistinguishable from the retropharyngeal space. It is only visible when distended by fluid or pus, below the level of T1-T6, since the retropharyngeal space variably ends at this level.

It is a potential path for spread of infections (e.g. retropharyngeal abscess) from the pharynx to the mediastinum.​

Anatomy: Head and neck
Share article

Article information

rID: 21595
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Tag: cases, neck
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: expected location of the danger space (green)
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 2: yellow line on annotated MRI
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 3: yellow on annotated MRI
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.