Retropharyngeal and parapharyngeal abscesses or phlegmons in children. Is there an association with adenotonsillectomy?

Melanie Duval, Sam J Daniel
International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 2008, 72 (12): 1765-9

BACKGROUND: Retropharyngeal and parapharyngeal abscesses or phlegmons are relatively uncommon. Since the tonsils and adenoids are part of the lymphoid tissues of the nasopharynx and oral cavity, one may hypothesize that their removal would lead to an increased susceptibility to pharyngeal infections.

OBJECTIVE: Determine whether there is an association with a history of adenotonsillectomy and the development of retro- and parapharyngeal abscesses/phlegmons.

METHODS: A case-control study was performed. The charts of 180 children admitted to a tertiary care pediatric hospital between 1996 and 2006 were reviewed. The patients were age-matched to 180 children having visited the emergency department of the same hospital. The charts of these children were reviewed and used as controls.

RESULTS: 13.9% of children admitted with a retro- or parapharyngeal abscess or phlegmon had previously undergone an adenotonsillectomy as compared to only 2.2% of children in the control group. The calculated odds ratio was 7.10 (95% CI [2.52-19.93], p<0.001).

CONCLUSION: In conclusion, the development of a retropharyngeal or parapharyngeal abscess or phlegmon is strongly associated with a history of adenotonsillectomy.

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