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Management of Deep Neck Space Infections in a Tertiary Center in North West Nigeria.

BACKGROUND: Deep neck space infection (DNSI) is a potentially fatal condition that more commonly results from dental and tonsillar infections. Timely intervention is, therefore, crucial when such patients present to the managing physician.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to review the etiology, clinical presentation, and treatment outcome of patients managed for DNSIs over a period of 7 years at National Ear Care Centre, Kaduna.

METHODOLOGY: The record of patients managed for DNSIs over a 7-year period between January 2010 and December 2016 was reviewed. Data obtained included demographic characteristics such as age, sex, occupation, level of education, main presenting symptoms, duration of symptoms, etiology of the DNSI, location of the infection, comorbidity, bacteriology, duration of hospital stay, and type of treatment given. The data were analyzed using the Statistical Package of the Social Sciences version 23.0.

RESULTS: A total of 55 patients presented with DNSIs, and there were 34 (61.8%) females and 21 (38.2%) males, with a sex ratio of 1.6:1. The age range of the patients was 1-71 years, with a mean age of 30.7 years (standard deviation of 18.1). The most common etiologic factor among these patients was tonsillar-related infection which accounted for 24 (43.6%). The most common symptom at presentation was fever (96.4%), followed by odynophagia (60%). Peritonsillar space infection as seen in 25 (45.5%) patients was the most common region affected, followed by submandibular space infection. Of the 35 (64%) patients who had incision and drainage, Staphylococcus aureus was the most common organism isolated in 16 (45.7%), followed by Streptococcus pneumoniae (11, 31.4%). Majority (38, 69.1%) of the patients spent <5 days on admission.

CONCLUSION: This study shows that oropharyngeal and orodental infections are the most common causes of DNSIs. Educating the populace about orodental health may help in reducing cases of DNSIs in Nigeria.

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