Retropharyngeal abscess (throat abscess)

Neck | Otorhinolaryngology | Retropharyngeal abscess (throat abscess) (Disease)


Retropharyngeal abscesses are deep neck space infections that can pose an immediate life-threatening emergency, with potential for airway compromise and other catastrophic complications.

Symptoms of a worsening retropharyngeal abscess may include neck pain, inability to swallow, drooling, difficulty breathing, and excessive sleepiness. In adults, retropharyngeal abscesses are rare in adults and can occur as a result of local trauma, such as foreign body ingestion (fishbone), or instrumental procedures (laryngoscopy, endotracheal intubation, feeding tube placement, etc. ), or in the particular context of an associated disease. These abscesses are more frequent in children because of the abundance of retropharyngeal lymph nodes.

Causes and Risk factors

Abscesses in this space can be caused by many organisms such as aerobic organisms (beta-hemolytic Streptococci and Staphylococcus aureus), anaerobic organisms (species of Bacteroides and Veillonella), or Gram-negative organisms (Haemophilus parainfluenzae and Bartonella henselae). Symptoms of a retropharyngeal abscess include a severe sore throat, difficulty swallowing, fever, headache, fatigue and swollen glands in the neck.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Retropharyngeal abscesses require prompt diagnosis and early management which frequently involves surgical drainage to achieve the best results. However, the appropriate timing to undergo a surgical procedure is still controversial. The high mortality rate associated with retropharyngeal abscesses is due to its association with airway obstruction, mediastinitis, aspiration pneumonia, epidural abscess, jugular venous thrombosis, necrotizing fasciitis, sepsis, and erosion into the carotid artery. ...

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