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Am J Otolaryngol. 2000 May-Jun;21(3):169-73.

Deep neck infections in diabetic patients.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Changhua Christian Hospital, Taiwan.



Deep neck infections may be lethal if life-threatening complications occur, especially in immunocompromised hosts such as diabetic patients. This study was undertaken to better define the clinical features and prognosis of deep neck infections in the diabetic patients with special emphasis on the use of empirical antibiotics and the role and timing of surgical management.


A retrospective analysis of 105 consecutive patients treated at a single institution during a 9-year period was conducted. Of these, 30 patients also presented with diabetes mellitus.


Compared with the nondiabetic patients, the unique features of deep neck infections in diabetic patients were as follows: (1) older age, (2) tendency of unclear infection source, (3) tendency to involve multiple spaces, (4) required more aggressive surgical intervention, (5) prolonged hospitalization, and (6) higher complication rate. The differences were statistically significant (P< .05). There were no significant differences in the complete blood count/ differential count positive findings and fever between the 2 groups (P> .05). Bacterial cultures showed that Klebsilla pneumoniae was the most common causative pathogen in diabetic patients.


In deep neck infection patients with diabetes mellitus, the clinical course is more severe and there is a poorer prognosis. Thus, in treating them, we should keep close observation, appropriately control the diabetes, detect the life-threatening complications early, perform aggressive surgical treatment if fluctuation or complication occurs, and take into account the preponderance of K pneumoniae when administering the empirical antibiotics.

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