What is epiglottis?

Updated: Apr 28, 2020
  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Epiglottitis is an acute inflammation in the supraglottic region of the oropharynx, with inflammation of the epiglottis, vallecula, arytenoids, and aryepiglottic folds (see the image below). [1] Anecdotally, George Washington probably died of epiglottitis, in 1799. Direct visualization of the epiglottis using nasopharyngoscopy/laryngoscopy is the preferred method of diagnosis and is replacing radiographic evaluation for suspected epiglottitis. A patient in extremis requires immediate airway management.

Soft-tissue lateral neck radiograph reveals edema Soft-tissue lateral neck radiograph reveals edema of epiglottis consistent with acute epiglottitis.

See also Pediatric Epiglottitis and Emergent Management of Pediatric Epiglottitis.

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