aka ENT Equivocation 001
A 38 year old male with a background history of type 2 diabetes presents with fevers, rigors and pain on swallowing. There is no sign of impending airway compromise; however, marked trismus is noted.
The following plain X-ray is obtained:
Q1. What is the diagnosis?
There is gross soft tissue swelling evident anterior to the vertebral bodies. The likely diagnosis is retropharngeal abscess.
Q2. What radiological investigation is indicated now?
A CT neck will allow you to determine the extent of the collection and whether it is amenable to drainage.
Q3. Describe the CT scan
There is an area of hypodensity in the right posterior pharynx consistent with an abscess.
Q4. The chest X-ray is normal but the ENT surgeon requests a CT chest. What do you think the purpose of this investigation is?
A CT chest is indicated to exclude unappreciated mediastinal mischief due to descending mediastinitis. This is a rare but highly lethal complication.
Q5. What is Lemierre’s syndrome?
Lemierre’s syndrome is characterised by disseminated abscesses and thrombophlebitis of the internal jugular vein after infection of the oropharynx. The predominant pathogen is a gram-negative anaerobic bacillus, Fusobacterium necrophorum.
LITFL Further Reading
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