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Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999 Jan;120(1):57-61.

Selection of antibiotics after incision and drainage of peritonsillar abscesses.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.


Despite the fact that peritonsillar abscess is the most common complication of acute tonsillitis, the treatment of peritonsillar abscess remains controversial. One element of controversy is the choice of antibiotics after drainage of the abscess. In an attempt to assess the effect of antibiotic choice on the treatment of peritonsillar abscess, we conducted a retrospective review of records from patients with peritonsillar abscess treated with incision and drainage. Our review identified 103 patients, comprising two groups: 58 patients treated with broad-spectrum intravenous antibiotics and 45 patients treated with intravenous penicillin alone. These patients were hospitalized after incision and drainage, and therefore their clinical courses and responses to therapy could be rigorously assessed. Characterization of illness based on patient age, temperature, and white blood cell count revealed similar severity of illness between the two groups. Comparison of clinical outcomes with respect to hours hospitalized (mean 44.3 +/- 6.6 and 38.3 +/- 7.1 hours, 95% confidence interval, for broad-spectrum and penicillin groups, respectively) and mean hours febrile (16.9 +/- 5.0 and 13.3 +/- 4.2 hours, 95% confidence interval) were not statistically significantly different (p = 0.222 and 0.269, respectively) between groups, indicating that broad-spectrum antibiotics failed to show greater efficacy than penicillin in the treatment of these patients. The microbiologic characteristics of these infections, failures of therapy, and complication rates were similar to those reported in the literature. These results suggest that intravenous penicillin remains an excellent choice for therapy in cases of peritonsillar abscess requiring parenteral antibiotics after drainage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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