Objective: To evaluate the effects of a coexisting epiglottic cyst on the clinical course and airway management of acute epiglottitis in adults. A review of the airway risk factors were studied in adults with acute epiglottitis in South Korea from 1997 to 2009.
Design: Retrospective chart review.
Setting: Academic tertiary care referral medical center.
Participants: The study included 117 adult patients that were diagnosed with acute epiglottitis laryngoscopically over a period of 12 years. Two distinct groups were identified: one with acute epiglottitis associated with an infected epiglottic cyst (n = 29, 25%) and the other with acute epiglotittis without a cyst (n = 88, 75%).
Main outcome measures: Patient background data, clinical manifestations, laboratory data, airway management, outcomes, and recurrence were recorded.
Results: Eight (28%) out of 29 patients with an infected epiglottic cyst required airway intervention compared to the four (5%) out of 88 patients without a cyst. The difference between the two groups was statistically significant (P = 0.001). Five out of six patients with recurrent acute epiglottitis had a coexisting epiglottic cyst. The recurrence of acute epiglottitis in patients with a cyst was significantly more frequent (P = 0.003). Twelve patients (10%) required airway intervention. There was no mortality found in this study. Logistic regression analysis showed that an older age, dyspnoea, a high pulse rate, and the presence of an epiglottic cyst were associated with an increased risk for airway obstruction.
Conclusions: The results of this study showed that a pre-existing epiglottic cyst might be associated with a suppurative infection of the supraglottis. Infected epiglottic cysts increased the risk for airway obstruction and recurrence of acute epiglottitis.