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A rare complication of adult supraglottitis

G. R. Dunn, N. E. Starritt, G. M. MacDougall

CaseRepClinPractRev 2005; 6:16-19

ID: 16401

Available online: 2005-01-02

Published: 2005-01-02

Background: Adult supraglottitis is a serious condition with mortality rates of up to 7%. Its incidence, unlike the childhood disease, remains unchanged. Airway compromise is the most common
complication, but others do occur and can also be life-threatening.
Case Report: We present a rare case of adult supraglottitis complicated by retropharyngeal abscess and mediastinitis requiring surgical drainage and prolonged hospital admission. This case highlights some of the early warning signs of disease progression which include anterior neck and chest wall cellulitis, persistent spiking pyrexia and, perhaps more obviously, a widened mediastinum
and chest pain.
Conclusions: One should always be aware of the possible intrathoracic complications when presented with a patient with supraglottitis. The early warning signs of disease progression should not be overlooked
and should promptly lead to further investigation and necessary treatment.

Keywords: Supraglottitis, complication, retropharyngeal abscess, mediastinitis