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Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2009 Feb;266(2):273-7. doi: 10.1007/s00405-008-0734-5. Epub 2008 Jun 14.

Deep neck infections: a retrospective review of 112 cases.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Shaheed-Beheshti Medical University, Loghman Hospital, Kamali Ave. Kargar, 13336-31151 Tehran, Iran.


The purpose of this study was to review our recent experience with deep neck infections and compare it to the experiences in the available literature. A total number of 112 charts of patients treated for deep neck infections at the department of otolaryngology of our hospital between August 1996 and September 2007 were retrospectively reviewed. All the relevant clinical charts including presentation, origin and site of deep neck infection, radiological, and bacteriological studies and interventions along with demographic profile, details of hospital stay, and outcomes were evaluated. The findings were compared to those in the available literature. Until 2002, we had nearly constant number of patients annually but since then we have found an increasing number of them. The most common presenting symptom was neck swelling (88.4%). Fever was present in 63.4 and 78% had leukocytosis. The most common known cause was dental infection (31.3%) and in 32.1% of them origin remained unknown. The most commonly encountered site was the submandibular space and 23.2% of patients had two or more involved spaces. Exactly 20.5% were treated with intravenous antibiotic therapy alone whereas 79.5% had surgical procedures with successful results in 98.2% of them. Diabetes mellitus was diagnosed in 20.5% of cases. There was no case of known primary or acquired immunodeficiency. We had two deaths from septic shock but there was not any other complication. Mean hospitalization time was 7 days. Deep neck infections remain potentially lethal infections if they are not diagnosed early and treated promptly. Widespread diffusion of empirical broad-spectrum oral antibiotic and anti-inflammatory treatments may cause masked presentations of deep neck infections without swelling, fever, or leukocytosis. Our tailored approach (medical or medical and surgical) based on clinical and radiological evidence was successful in 98.2% of the patients with a short mean hospitalization time.

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