Author(s): Lee YQ, Kanagalingam J
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Abstract This study aims to review our experience with deep neck abscesses, identify key trends, and improve the management of this condition. This is a retrospective chart review of patients diagnosed with deep neck abscesses in the Department of ENT (Otorhinolaryngology) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore between 2004 and 2009. Patient demographics, etiology, bacteriology, systemic disease, radiology, treatment, complications, duration of hospitalization, and outcomes were reviewed. 131 patients were included (64.9\% male, 35.1\% female) with a median age of 51.0 years. 54 (41.2\%) patients had diabetes mellitus. The parapharyngeal space (23.7\%) was the most commonly involved space. Odontogenic and upper airway infections were the leading causes of deep neck abscesses (28.0\% each). Klebsiella pneumoniae (27.1\%) was the most commonly cultured organism in this study and among the diabetic patients (50.0\%). 108 (82.4\%) patients underwent surgical drainage. 42 patients suffered complications. All 19 patients, who had upper airway obstruction, had either a tracheostomy or intubation. Patients with multi-space abscesses, diabetes mellitus, and complications had prolonged hospitalizations. Old age and diabetes are risk factors for developing deep neck abscesses and their sequelae. The empiric choice of antibiotics should recognize that a dental source is likely, and that Klebsiella is most common in diabetics. Surgical drainage and adequate antibiotic coverage remains the cornerstone of treatment of deep neck abscesses. Therapeutic needle aspiration may successfully replace surgical drainage, if the abscesses are small and no complications are imminent. Airway obstruction should be anticipated in multi-space and floor of mouth abscesses.
This article was published in Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol
and referenced in Emergency Medicine: Open Access