Life-threatening complication of retropharyngeal abscess in an infant: a case report

Ayaz Ur Rehman, Salman Khan, Awais Abbas, Hamdan Ahmad Pasha, Qalab Abbas, Naveed Ur Rehman Siddiqui

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Deep neck space infections are uncommon in infants. Retropharyngeal abscess (RPA) is a deep space neck infection that can present with subtle signs and symptoms. Delay in diagnosis can lead to life-threatening complications. Here we describe life-threatening complication of retropharyngeal abscess. Case presentation: We report a life-threatening complication of retropharyngeal abscess in 10-month old Asian infant weighing 8.2 kg. The patient presented with fever, right-sided neck swelling, hoarseness of voice, and respiratory distress. The clinical and radiological findings were suggestive of airway obstruction complicated by retropharyngeal abscess. The patient was urgently taken to the operating room and underwent (grade 3) intubation. After stabilization, the patient underwent endoscopic trans-oral incision and drainage, during which 5 cc pus was aspirated. Antibiotics were prescribed for 2 weeks following the procedure based on the sensitivity result of the pus culture. Conclusion: In retropharyngeal abscess, a delay in diagnosis can result in life-threatening complications. This report highlights the importance of prompt recognition of a threatened airway and the management of retropharyngeal abscess by emergency physicians. If an emergency physician suspects RPA with airway obstructions, the airway should be immediately secured in a secure environment by otolaryngologist and an anesthesiologist.

Original languageEnglish
Article number367
JournalJournal of Medical Case Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Airway obstruction
  • Cervical lymphadenopathy
  • Deep neck space infection
  • Retropharyngeal abscess


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