Computed tomography in the evaluation of pediatric neck infections

R F Wetmore, S Mahboubi, S K Soyupak
Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery 1998, 119 (6): 624-7
In children, infections involving both the superficial and deep neck spaces are common. Children so affected typically present with fever, neck mass, neck stiffness, and, occasionally, airway compromise. Radiologic modalities used in the evaluation of neck infections include plain lateral neck radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging. All these modalities have proved useful in the treatment of such infections, specifically the decision to perform incision and drainage. The charts of 66 patients-33 with superficial and 33 with deep neck infections-were analyzed with respect to symptoms, signs, computed tomography findings, and need for surgical intervention. Computed tomography was not particularly helpful in superficial neck infections with regard to the decision to perform surgical drainage; however, it did localize and demonstrate the extent of infection. In deep neck infections we found a 92% correlation between computed tomographic evidence of an abscess and surgical confirmation of one. Contrast-enhanced computed tomography remains an excellent tool in the treatment of neck infections in children.

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