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Spine J. 2008 Sep-Oct;8(5):827-30. Epub 2007 Jun 21.

Acute cervical osteomyelitis and prevertebral abscess after routine tonsillectomy.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA. alpesh2@gmail.com



Tonsillectomy is among the most commonly performed surgical procedures. The development of severe infection after tonsillectomy is a very rare but potentially fatal complication that has not been described in the orthopedic, neurosurgical, or spine literature.


To present acute cervical osteomyelitis and prevertebral abscess formation as a complication of a routine tonsillectomy.


Case report, literature review.


A case report was prepared on the clinical and radiographic data of a patient presenting with prevertebral abscess and acute cervical osteomyelitis 6 weeks after routine tonsillectomy. A review of relevant literature was additionally performed.


The patient presented 6 weeks after tonsillectomy with evidence of a deep cervical infection. Operative debridement with anterior and posterior surgical stabilization was performed. The patient completed a 6-week course of intravenous antibiotics. At 24-month follow-up, the patient showed no signs of infection and demonstrated a stable fusion mass.


The development of prevertebral abscess and acute cervical osteomyelitis has been discussed in a small number of otolaryngology case reports and has not been previously reported in the orthopedic, neurosurgical, or spine literature. Symptoms may be nonspecific, and so a high index of clinical suspicion is needed. Delay in treatment may lead to significant morbidity and even mortality. Successful treatment can be obtained through operative debridement and intravenous antibiotic therapy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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