Parapharyngeal abscess: diagnosis, complications and management in adults

A Alaani, H Griffiths, S S Minhas, J Olliff, A B Drake Lee
European Archives of Oto-rhino-laryngology 2005, 262 (4): 345-50
Parapharyngeal abscess may cause life-threatening complications. Peritonsillar abscess and tonsillitis may result in parapharyngeal abscess. Since the introduction of antibiotics, the incidence of parapharyngeal abscess secondary to tonsillitis and peritonsillar abscess has decreased dramatically. We present five cases of parapharyngeal abscess resulting from tonsillitis and peritonsillar infection extending to the parapharyngeal space in adult patients. Two were complicated by mediastinitis despite early treatment by wide spectrum antibiotics. We believe that early diagnosis and aggressive antibiotic treatment with early surgical drainage in cases associated with pus collection are the key points in preventing serious and fatal complications. We emphasize the diagnostic role of computerized tomography (CT) scan and the importance of early and proper drainage of these abscesses.

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