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Retropharyngeal Abscess

more about Retropharyngeal Abscess


Peritonsillar abscess or Quinsy


  • Tonsils are small, rounded masses of tissue located in the back of the throat.  A Peritonsillar Abscess is the collection of infected material around the tonsils.

  • Sore throats
  • Trismus -- difficulties opening the mouth
  • Foul smelling breath
  • Drooling
  • Ear aches
  • Hoarseness of the voice -- hot potato voice
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

  • Bacteria -- group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus bacteria infect one or both tonsils.  The infection eventually spreads to the tissue around the tonsils, causing the development of Abscesses filled with pus.  Infection can further spread to the roof of the mouth, palate, neck and the lungs.
  • Other bacteria, such as anaerobes, are a less common cause.
  • The infection is usually on one side of the throat.

  • History and medical exam
  • Swollen glands under the neck and jaw.
  • The throat may show redness and white-cream colored pus around the tonsils.
  • Tonsils may be swollen and displaced (pushed down and toward the center).
  • Throat, neck, and face may be swollen.
  • The doctor may spray a numbing medication in the throat, using a tiny needle to drain the Abscess.  It is then sent to a laboratory where the cause can be identified.
  • Further blood samples and a chest X-Ray may be necessary.

  • Children between 6 and15 years of age
  • Tonsillitis
  • Pharyngitis (throat infection)

  • A general practitioner may consult with an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat specialist).  If the case is mild, it can be dealt with on an outpatient basis.

  • Drainage of the Abscess
  • Fluids
  • Soups and high protein foods
  • Avoid very hot or very cold foods or liquids
  • Avoid smoking
  • Tylenol for pain and fever
  • Salt water gargling
  • Antibiotics such as Erythromycin or Penicillin are given for 10-14 days.
  • The patient may be unable to swallow, develop a high fever, or require dehydrated inpatient treatment.
  • Admission to a hospital
  • Start intravenous (through veins) fluids and antibiotics.
  • Most ENTs recommend removing the tonsils, since the Abscess tends to reoccur.

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.  If there is difficulty breathing or the child is very sick, call 911 immediately.




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