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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2011 Sep;75(9):1099-103. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2011.05.024. Epub 2011 Jun 25.

Retropharyngeal infections in children. Treatment strategies and outcomes.

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Pediatric ENT Department, Hôpital Necker - Enfants Malades, AP-HP, University of Paris V, France.



To optimize the treatment of retropharyngeal infections in children.


Retrospective chart review of 101 consecutive pediatric cases of retropharyngeal infections referred to our center from January 2006 to July 2009.


Two-thirds of patients were males. Their mean age was 52 months (range: 6-163). Upper airway obstruction was observed in three patients. In another child, the infection evolved towards a diffuse cervical cellulitis. Medical treatment was initially planned in 44% of patients. Failures requiring surgical drainage occurred in 18% of them. In 56% of cases, surgical treatment was immediately instigated. It failed in 16% of patients, requiring a second surgical drainage. There was no difference in the duration of fever and of hospital stay between patients initially treated medically or surgically. Both medical and surgical treatment failures were associated with longer durations of fever (p=0.002, and p<0.0001, respectively) and of hospital stay (p=0.0006, and p=0.0005, respectively). Some characteristics of CT-scan anomalies were correlated with treatment failure. A hypodense core surrounded by rim enhancement, with a largest long axis ≥ 20 mm, was more frequent in case of medical failure (p=0.02). Surgical failure was associated with the same feature, but with a largest long axis ≥ 30 mm (p=0.05).


The present study suggests that severe complications are rare in pediatric retropharyngeal adenitis, and that CT-scan is a useful tool to choose between medical and surgical treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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