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Ann Emerg Med. 1995 May;25(5):592-6.

Posterior epistaxis: clinical features and acute complications.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Akron City Hospital, Ohio, USA.



To describe the clinical features, evaluate the incidence of serious complications, and identify factors associated with rebleeding in adults with acute posterior epistaxis.


Retrospective chart review.


University-affiliated community teaching hospital.


We studied 88 episodes of posterior epistaxis in 81 patients (mean age, 64.3 years; range, 27 to 96 years) who were treated in the emergency department and hospitalized during a 6-year period. Inclusion criterion was active hemorrhage into the posterior pharynx without identifiable anterior bleeding or severe nasal hemorrhage refractory to anterior packing. Patients with anterior epistaxis were excluded.


Posterior epistaxis accounted for 5% of all cases of epistaxis. The most common factors associated with posterior epistaxis were a history of hypertension in 39 patients (48%) and previous epistaxis in 30 (37%). Of 57 patients who reported duration of epistaxis, 39 (68.4%) had nasal hemorrhage for less than 12 hours before ED presentation, and 13 patients (22.8%) had nasal bleeding that lasted more than 24 hours. Bleeding was recorded as moderate or severe for 88% of patients. All patients were treated with posterior nasal packing in the ED (73% with traditional gauze packing, 15% with balloon, and 12% with tampon). After admission, 16 patients (19.8%) required surgical intervention, 17 (21%) experienced acute sinusitis, 10 (12.3%) received blood transfusions, and 3 (3.7%) were intubated. Rebleeding occurred in 24 patients (29.6%), with 13 episodes (44.1%) occurring less than 24 hours after admission. Factors associated with rebleeding were posterior epistaxis described as "severe" (OR, 2.53; 95% CI, .88 to 7.39; chi 2 = 2.84, 1 df, P = .92) and pack removal within 48 hours after admission (OR, 3.07; 95% CI, .98 to 9.88; chi 2 = 3.66, 1 df, P = .056). Factors that failed to predict rebleeding included age, prior hypertension, anticoagulant use, vital signs, and type of posterior pack used (gauze or balloon).


Although posterior epistaxis is an uncommon otolaryngologic emergency, many patients experience clinically significant complications. Rebleeding was associated with severe posterior epistaxis and pack removal within 48 hours after admission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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