Retropharyngeal abscess is a collection of pus in the tissues in the back of the throat. It is a potentially life-threatening medical condition.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Retropharyngeal abscess generally affects children under age 5, but it can occur at any age.
Infected material (pus) builds up in the space around the tissues at the back of the throat. This can occur during or immediately after a throat infection.
- Difficulty swallowing
- High fever
- High-pitched sound when inhaling (
- Muscles between the ribs pull in when breathing (
- Severe throat pain
- Difficulty turning the head
Signs and tests
The health care provider will perform a physical exam and look inside the throat. The doctor or nurse may gently rub the back of the throat with a cotton swab. This is to take a sample of tissue to check it more closely and is called a
Other tests may include:
Complete blood count(CBC)
CT scanof the neck
X-rayof the neck
Surgery is needed to drain the infected area. Corticosteroids are sometimes given to reduce airway swelling. High-dose antibiotics are given through a vein (
The airway will be protected so that it does not become completely blocked by the swelling.
It is important to get immediate medical help. This condition can lead to blockage of the airway. This is life-threatening. With prompt treatment, a full recovery is expected.
Airway obstruction Aspiration Mediastinitis Osteomyelitis
This list may not include all complications.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you or your child develops a high fever with severe throat pain.
Seek immediate medical help right away if you have:
High-pitched breathing sounds (stridor)
Muscles between the ribs pull in when breathing (intercostal retractions)
Prompt diagnosis and treatment of