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Cervical necrotizing fasciitis of odontogenic origin: a report of 11 cases.

PURPOSE: Although most cases of cervical necrotizing fasciitis (CNF) are odontogenic in origin, reports of this disease in the dental literature are sparse. The purpose of this study was to review the cases treated on our service, and to analyze the features of this disease and the responses to management, to supplement the understanding of this relatively rare and life-threatening disease.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: All cases of infection admitted to the OMS service in a period of 10.5 years were studied retrospectively. The diagnosis of CNF was established by the findings on surgical exploration and histologic examination. The patients' age, sex, medical status, causes of the infection, bacteriology, computed tomography scan findings, surgical interventions, complications, survival, and other clinical parameters were reviewed.

RESULTS: A total of 422 cases of infection were admitted, and 11 cases of cervical necrotizing fasciitis were found. The incidence of CNF was 2.6% among the infections hospitalized on the OMS service. There were 7 male and 4 female patients. Eight patients were older than 60 years of age. Seven patients had immunocompromising conditions, including diabetes mellitus in 4, concurrent administration of steroid in 2, uremia in 1, and a thymus carcinoma in 1. All patients showed parapharyngeal space involvement; four also showed retropharyngeal space involvement. Gas was found in the computed tomography scan in 6 patients, extending to cranial base in 3 of them. Anaerobes were isolated in 73% of the infections, whereas Streptococcus species were uniformly present. All patients received 1 or more debridements. Major complications occurred in 4 patients, including mediastinitis in 4, septic shock in 2, lung empyema in 1, pleural effusion in 2, and pericardial effusion in 1. All major complications developed in the immunocompromised patients, leading to 2 deaths.

CONCLUSION: The mortality rate in this study was 18%. Early surgical debridement, intensive medical care, and a multidisciplinary approach are advocated in the management of CNF.

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