Changing trends of peritonsillar abscess

Am J Otolaryngol. May-Jun 2010;31(3):162-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2008.12.003. Epub 2009 Apr 23.


Objective: This retrospective, cohort study aims to assess the changing characteristics of peritonsillar abscess (PTA).

Method: Data were obtained from PTA patient records admitted to a secondary hospital over a 10-year period.

Results: A total of 427 patients, aged 31.6 +/- 15.2 years (range, 3-91), were treated for PTA, reflecting an incidence of 0.9/10 000/y. Forty-seven (11%) patients had more than one episode. There was no sex, seasonal, or side predominance. Thirteen (3%) patients developed complications. One hundred four (24.4%) patients were 40 years or older, had a longer hospital stay, and were prone to complications. One hundred two (23.8%) patients did not have an anteceding pharyngotonsillitis. Smoking was more common among patients with PTA as compared with the general population and was associated with more complications. A total of 283 (66.2%) patients developed PTA in spite of prior antibiotic therapy; 51.1% of smokers that received prior antibiotics had a higher incidence of Streptococcus viridans isolates.

Conclusion: Peritonsillar abscess may have changed its characteristics: affecting more older patients having a worse and longer course and PTA evolvement without anteceding tonsillitis or in spite of a prior adequate antibiotic therapy. Smoking may be a predisposing factor.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drainage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peritonsillar Abscess / epidemiology*
  • Peritonsillar Abscess / microbiology
  • Peritonsillar Abscess / therapy*
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents