What is the morbidity associated with peritonsillar abscesses (PTAs)?

Updated: Sep 03, 2020
  • Author: Jorge Flores, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Mortality of peritonsillar abscess is unknown. Morbidity of peritonsillar abscess is due mostly to pain, cost of treatment, lost time from work and school, and complications.

Using data from the National (Nationwide) Inpatient Sample, a study by Qureshi et al found evidence that retropharyngeal abscess is occurring at an increasing rate among adult inpatients with peritonsillar abscess. According to the investigators, between 2003 and 2010 the annual rate at which retropharyngeal abscess occurred concurrently with peritonsillar abscess rose from 0.5% to 1.4% among inpatients aged 18 years or older. The study also indicated that patient age affects concurrence of the two conditions, with the likelihood that retropharyngeal abscess will complicate peritonsillar abscess increasing in patients aged 40 years or older. [10]

A literature review by Klug et al found descending mediastinitis to be the most frequently reported complication in peritonsillar abscess, followed by parapharyngeal and retropharyngeal abscess, necrotizing fasciitis, and Lemierre syndrome. Overall, 17 different complications were found in the studies examined, with the overall mortality rate being 10%. The investigators also reported that male gender and age over 40 years appeared to be complication risk factors. [11]

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