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Use of bacteriologic studies in the outpatient management of peritonsillar abscess.

Laryngoscope 2002 January
OBJECTIVE: To examine whether obtaining bacterial Gram stain and aerobic/anaerobic cultures alters management of patients with peritonsillar abscess.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective study.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 221 cases of suspected peritonsillar abscess from July 1990 to February 1999 were analyzed with regard to outcomes and management patterns of those who had bacteriologic studies performed and those who did not.

RESULTS: Pus was aspirated in 153 (69%). Eighty-two had bacterial studies performed whereas 71 did not. Of patients that followed up, all patients had complete resolution in the first group based on initial management. Three patients of the latter group had a complicated course secondary to dehydration and antibiotic noncompliance (P =.24). Of the 82 cultures sent, sensitivities were conducted on only 17 (21%). Nine of 17 grew organisms that were penicillin-resistant. No patient in the study had any treatment decisions based on microbiologic studies.

CONCLUSION: In the routine management of peritonsillar abscess, bacteriologic studies are unnecessary on initial presentation. They should be reserved for patients with a high likelihood of infection by resistant organisms, i.e., diabetics, immunocompromised patients, and patients with recurrent peritonsillar abscess.

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