Deep Neck Space Infections: Current Trends and Intricacies of Management?

Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2022 Oct;74(Suppl 2):2344-2349. doi: 10.1007/s12070-020-02174-4. Epub 2020 Sep 28.


This study aims to describe the current epidemiological and etiological trends for deep neck space infections (DNIs) with an objective to understand the intricacies of their management. In this retrospective analytical study records of 52 patients with DNIs were reviewed. Patients having superficial abscess, peritonsillar abscess and abscess due to trauma/surgical procedure were excluded. Various epidemiological and etiological parameters (Demography, site, presentation, etiology, association with co-morbidities, bacteriology) and management guidelines (need for surgical interventions for DNIs and airway management, hospital stay duration, treatment outcome and complications) were reviewed and analyzed. Study recorded preponderance of DNIs in males (male:female = 1.6:1) and in younger generation (50% of patients presenting in first 2 decades). Commonest etiology being odontogenic infections (38.46%) followed by URTIs and tonsillopharyngitis (19.23%). Submandibular space involvement was noted in 42.3% cases followed by parapharyngeal space involvement in 21.15%. Nearly 55% cases of submandibular space involvement were because of odontogenic causes. 69.23% culture specimens reported no growth. 61.53% patients were diagnosed with anaemia. Up to 80% required open surgical drainage. All received broad spectrum antibiotics as a starting regime. No severe complications were recorded. Understanding the current epidemiological and etiological trends can help in early and definitive diagnosis of DNIs. Empirical starting treatment regime including broad spectrum antibiotics (till sensitivity pattern is availed) and maintaining low threshold for required surgical intervention are required to manage DNIs satisfactorily. Selected cases should be given conservative trials with close monitoring.

Keywords: Anaemia; Deep neck space infections (DNIs); Odontogenic; Parapharyngeal space; Submandibular space; Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs).