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Surgery. 2012 Oct 30;30(11):590-596.

Infections and foreign bodies in ENT.

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Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


Infections play a major role in the practice of ENT. Microbial penetration into tissues of the head and neck can initiate a focal reaction causing superficial self-resolving infections. However, some of these have the potential to develop into life-threatening disease. We provide an overview of the most common ENT infections with focus on the presentation, diagnosis and management. Foreign bodies of the ear, nose and throat are a common presentation to primary and emergency care. Most commonly these are seen in children and include plastic toys, beads and foodstuffs inserted into the ears and nose. Diagnosis is often delayed as insertion is usually not witnessed. In exceptional cases airway foreign bodies can present as a life-threatening emergency. Removal of foreign bodies can usually be achieved by a skilled practitioner with minimal complications. Methods of removal include suction catheters, syringing, and use of instrumentation. In adults, the treatment of oesophageal food bolus obstruction may require a combination of medical and surgical intervention.


Acute otitis externa; acute otitis media; foreign bodies; mastoiditis; periorbital cellulitis; rhinosinusitis; supraglottitis; tonsillitis

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