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Supraglottitis in the era following widespread immunization against Haemophilus influenzae type B: evolving principles in diagnosis and management.

Laryngoscope 2010 November
OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: To review the demographics, presentation, interventions, and outcomes of acute supraglottitis in the post-Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccination era and make updated recommendations for treatment.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective review.

METHODS: Patients with the discharge diagnosis of acute epiglottitis or supraglottitis from two tertiary hospitals from 1995 to 2005 were identified. Patient characteristics, signs and symptoms at presentation, interventions, hospital course, and outcomes were reviewed and analyzed.

RESULTS: Sixty adults and one child were identified. The most common presenting symptom was odynophagia (100%), followed by dysphagia (85%) and voice change (75%). Thirteen patients (21%) required airway intervention; 11 patients were intubated, and two required tracheotomy. Stridor, respiratory distress, tachycardia, tachypnea, rapid onset of symptoms, and shortness of breath were all associated with the need for airway intervention. Patients without any of these symptoms recovered without airway intervention. A total of 62% of patients were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), and the average length of ICU stay was 2.3 days. All patients were treated with intravenous antibiotics, most commonly ceftriaxone and ampicillin/sulbactam, and 87% of patients received at least one dose of steroids. The average overall length of stay was 3.8 days. There were no deaths. The use of corticosteroids was associated with shorter ICU and overall lengths of stay.

CONCLUSIONS: The patient demographics, presentation, and course of supraglottitis have changed since the widespread use of the Hib vaccine. Recognizing the signs and symptoms associated with airway obstruction is important in the safe and effective management of this condition.

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