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Emergency Medical Minute

Podcast #315: Retropharyngeal Infections in Pediatrics

Emergency Medical Minute
Released on Apr 6, 2018

 

Author: Dr. Karen Woolf, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Anatomy : base of skull to posterior mediastinum, anteriorly bounded by middle layer of deep cervical fascia and posteriorly by the deep layer, communicates to lateral pharyngeal space bounded by carotid sheath. Lymph node chains draining nasopharynx, sinuses, middle ear, etc. run through it.
  • Epidemiology & Microbiology: most common kids 2-4, (neonates too). Polymicrobial (GAS, MSSA, MRSA, respiratory anaerobes).
  • Signs and symptoms can include pharyngitis, dysphagia, odynophagia, drooling, torticollis, muffled voice, respiratory distress, stridor, neck swelling, and trismus.
  • Exam may show drooling, posterior pharyngeal swelling, anterior cervical LAD, or a neck mass.
  • Imaging: Get CT neck w/IV contrast!
  • DDx: epiglottis, croup, bacterial tracheitis, peritonsillar abscess, trauma, foreign body, angioedema, cystic hygroma, meningitis, osteomyelitis, tetanus toxin.
  • Tx: Unasyn, if not responding add Vancomycin or Linezolid; surgical drainage if airway is compromised.
  • Complications: airway obstruction, sepsis, aspiration pneumonia, IJ thrombosis, carotid artery rupture, mediastinitis.

 

References:

Craig FW, Schunk JE. Retropharyngeal abscess in children: clinical presentation, utility of imaging, and current management. Pediatrics 2003; 111:1394.

Fleisher GR. Infectious disease emergencies. In: Textbook of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, 5th ed, Fleisher GR, Ludwig S, Henretig FM (Eds), Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia 2006. p.783.

Goldstein NA, Hammersclag MR. Peritonsillar, retropharyngeal, and parapharyngeal abscesses. In: Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 6th ed, Feigin RD, Cherry JD, Demmler-Harrison GJ, Kaplan SL (Eds), Saunders, Philadelphia 2009. P.177

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