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Laryngorhinootologie. 2010 Sep;89(9):533-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1255047. Epub 2010 Sep 13.

[Jugular vein thrombosis and Lemierre's syndrome--severe complications of oropharyngeal infections].

[Article in German]

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HNO-Klinik, Universitätsklinikum Freiburg, Freiburg.



Acute oral or pharyngeal infections usually heal under adequate therapy within a few days. Therefore severe regionary or systemic complications are not regularly seen.


We report on 3 patients in whom during or after apparent recovery from a pharyngeal or perioral infection a one-sided painful swelling of the neck associated with fever and leucocytosis developed.


Color Doppler sonography (CDS) revealed unilateral thrombosis of the internal jugular vein (IJV) in all cases, whereupon we initiated high-dosed parenteral antibiotic therapy and therapeutic heparinisation. Furthermore, we drained detectable abscess formations. Nonetheless, in one patient fever attacks occurred postoperatively, accompanied by septic-embolic lung infiltrates, corresponding to Lemierre's syndrome. In all cases, we achieved clinical recovery and remission of infection. The course was significantly prolonged in the patient with pulmonary involvement and in this patient no reperfusion of the IJV was achieved.


Even today serious complications may occur unexpectedly in presumed everyday oral or pharyngeal infections. CDS is a suitable procedure to disclose a jugular vein thrombosis (JVT) promptly and non-invasively. Parenteral antibiotic therapy for at least 10 days is usually the therapy of choice for JVT; additional full-heparinisation is controversially discussed in the professional literature. Septic pulmonary embolism following pharyngeal infection and JVT, as described by Lemierre, was associated with a high rate of mortality in the pre-antibiotic era, and even today may be fatal in spite of appropriate and maximal therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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