The purpose of this study was to analyze different patient positioning strategies for minimizing artifacts of the shoulder girdle in head and neck CT. Standardized CT examinations of three positioning groups were compared (P: patients pushed their shoulders downwards; D: similar optimization by a pulling device; N: no particular positioning optimization). Parameters analyzed were the length of the cervical spine not being superimposed by the shoulder girdle as well as noise in the supraclavicular space. In groups P and D, the portion of the cervical spine not superimposed was significantly larger than in group N (P: 10.4 cm; D: 10.6 cm; N: 8.5 cm). At the supraclavicular space, noise decreased significantly (P: 12.5 HU; D: 12.1 HU; N: 17.7 HU). No significant differences between the two position-optimized groups (P and D) were detected. Optimized shoulder positioning by the patient increases image quality in CT head and neck imaging. The use of a pulling device offers no additional advantages.