Parapharyngeal abscess: diagnosis and treatment

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2008 Jun;265(6):681-6. doi: 10.1007/s00405-007-0524-5.


To study the circumstances of diagnosis, predisposing factors, bacteriology and therapeutic management of parapharyngeal abscesses. This retrospective study over a period of 7 years concerned 16 patients hospitalized in an ENT and Head and Neck surgery department for parapharyngeal abscess. All patients were treated by intravenous antibiotics and steroids for 5-7 days. The length of hospital stay was 6-15 days. Parapharyngeal abscesses associated with peritonsillar and retropharyngeal abscess were all initially aspirated transorally for evacuation and bacteriologic examination. Five patients underwent surgical drainage (two via cervical incision, three by immediate tonsillectomy techniques and one by intra-oral drainage). Two patients presented jugular vein thrombosis. No life-threatening complication was observed. Patients were considered to be cured when cervical CT scan performed on D21-45 was normal. Parapharyngeal abscess is the second most common deep neck abscess after peritonsillar abscess. The diagnosis is both clinical and radiologic. CT scan is the best imaging examination for diagnosis and follow-up of parapharyngeal abscess. Non-complicated parapharyngeal abscesses require first-line medical management (intravenous antibiotics (amoxicillin and clavulanic acid) combined with steroids) and follow-up CT scan.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peritonsillar Abscess / diagnostic imaging*
  • Peritonsillar Abscess / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Glucocorticoids