Retropharyngeal Cellulitis

Chapter 130

Retropharyngeal Cellulitis


Acute pharyngitis is common in childhood and most often affects children <of three 3 years of age. The most likely causal organism is Haemophilus influenzae. Retropharyngeal cellulitis or abscess in children is usually secondary to acute pharyngitis. In adults, infection is usually due to penetrating injury, and gram-positive cocci are the most common pathogen.

Clinical Findings

Patients often present with fever with the sensation of a lump in the throat. Patients also complain of a choking feeling and difficulty in swallowing. Inspection of the pharynx will reveal edema and redness.


From the pharynx, microorganisms can spread to the retropharyngeal nodes resulting in suppurative lymphadenitis. If treatment is delayed, lymphadenitis can lead to retropharyngeal cellulitis and abscess formation.


Acute pharyngitis and lymphadenitis can be readily controlled with antibiotics. Retropharyngeal abscess should be surgically managed expediently because rapid enlargement may lead to airway compromise.

Dec 27, 2015 | Posted by in HEAD & NECK IMAGING | Comments Off on Retropharyngeal Cellulitis
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