Comparative Study
Journal Article
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Empiric treatment for peritonsillar abscess: A single-center experience with medical therapy alone.

PURPOSE: Compare the use of medical therapy alone (MTA) with surgical therapy (ST) for the empiric treatment of peritonsillar abscess (PTA).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A consecutive cohort of patients treated for PTA at our institution from May 2013 to February 2019 was analyzed. Demographics, disease characteristics, management strategies, and treatment outcomes were compared between treatment groups. Primary outcomes included treatment failure, defined as the need for follow-up surgical intervention, and complications within 2-weeks of empiric treatment.

RESULTS: 306 patients (72.7%) received MTA while 115 (27.3%) underwent ST. There was no significant difference in the rate of treatment failure between the MTA (7.2%) and ST (6.1%) groups (p = 0.879). Complications were rare in both groups (1.6% with MTA versus 0.9% with ST; p = 0.898). Dysphagia (p = 0.011), trismus (p = 0.045), larger abscesses (p < 0.001), and hospital admission (p < 0.001) were more common in the ST group. Corticosteroid prescriptions were a common component of MTA (53.3%) and less often used with ST (33.9%; p = 0.001). After adjusting for abscess size, there remained no significant difference in the rate of treatment failure between groups. Univariate analyses demonstrated no significant independent predictors of treatment failure including age, sex, race, tonsillitis history, smoking history, presenting signs and symptoms, abscess size, hospital admission, and corticosteroid prescriptions.

CONCLUSIONS: MTA may be a safe and effective alternative to surgical drainage for the empiric treatment of PTA, warranting larger-scale prospective analyses. Abscess size did not appear to influence treatment failure; however, careful patient selection is likely to optimize treatment outcomes.

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