What is the role of lab testing in the workup of peritonsillar abscesses (PTAs)?

Updated: Sep 03, 2020
  • Author: Jorge Flores, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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No definitive studies are required to diagnose peritonsillar abscess. Physicians may consider basic laboratory tests (ie, CBC, electrolytes, C-reactive protein) if the patient has significant comorbidities.

Monospot test/heterophile antibody test can be performed to rule out infectious mononucleosis if the etiology is unclear. Infectious mononucleosis can coexist in 1.5-6% of patients with peritonsillar abscesses. [16]

Culture of the fluid from needle aspiration may be performed to guide antibiotic selection or changes. A recent literature review recommends obtaining aspirate culture in those at risk of infection with resistant organisms (ie, those with recurrent or persistent infection, diabetes, or immunocompromise). [16]

Blood cultures may be indicated if the clinical presentation is severe.

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