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Ear Nose Throat J. 2000 Dec;79(12):952-7.

Need for tracheotomy is rare in patients with acute supraglottitis: findings of a retrospective study.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital, New York City, USA.


We retrospectively reviewed the cases of 23 adults and six children who had been given a presumed diagnosis of acute supraglottitis between 1987 and 1997. The most common symptoms in these patients were odynophagia, dysphagia, hoarseness, and fever. Stridor and drooling were also observed, primarily in the children. Fiberoptic laryngoscopy confirmed the presence of edema and erythema of the supraglottic structures in all patients. Blood cultures were positive for Hemophilus influenzae type b in three children and for Serratia marcescens in one adult. All other blood cultures were negative. All patients were treated with intravenous broad-spectrum antibiotics and humidified oxygen, and two-thirds received intravenous corticosteroids. Patients were monitored with pulse oximetry and serial fiberoptic laryngoscopy. Two patients required intubation; one had an epiglottic abscess, and the other had laryngeal edema so severe that vocal fold mobility could not be assessed. The length of stay in the intensive care unit ranged from 1 to 7 days (mean: 1.9). All patients recovered and were discharged free of symptoms after 2 to 11 days of overall hospitalization (mean: 4.4).

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