Which age groups have the highest prevalence of retropharyngeal abscess (RPA)?

Updated: Jan 08, 2021
  • Author: Joseph H Kahn, MD; Chief Editor: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP  more...
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Initially, retropharyngeal abscess was thought to be a disease limited to children, but now it is being encountered with increasing frequency in adults.

  • In children, retropharyngeal abscesses develop most frequently between the ages of 2 and 4 years. [4]

  • This was supported by a review by Bochner, which found the incidence to be greatest in children younger than age 5 years and, by gender, in boys. [5]

  • A review of adults with deep space infections of the neck in Germany revealed a mean age (±standard deviation) of 44.5 (±21.8) years.

  • A review of retropharyngeal abscess cases at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto revealed that 66% of pediatric cases occurred in children younger than 6 years.

  • A review of 30 cases of retropharyngeal abscess over an 11-year period in Nigeria found the median age to be 21 months, and 77% of patients were younger than 5 years. Eighty-three percent of retropharyngeal abscesses occurred in children, and 17% occurred in adults. [31]

  • A 10-year review at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, revealed that 30% of the cases were in pediatric patients aged 16 months to 8 years and 70% were in adults aged 21-64 years.

  • A 35-year review of cases involving children who were treated for retropharyngeal abscess at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles revealed that 50% of patients were younger than 3 years and 71% were younger than 6 years.

  • A review or retropharyngeal abscess in children in Detroit found a mean age of 4.1 years, with a range from 2 months to 18 years.

  • A review in Sydney, Australia, found that, in 55% of pediatric cases of retropharyngeal abscess, the children were younger than 1 year, with 10% diagnosed in the neonatal period.

  • A review of RPA cases in children in Albuquerque revealed a median age of 36 months, with 75% of patients younger than 5 years and 16% of patients younger than 1 year. [32]

  • In the United States, in 2003, a review of the Kids' Inpatient Database (KID) revealed 1321 pediatric admissions with retropharyngeal abscess, with an average age of 5.1 years (SD, 4.4). [28]

  • An 11-year chart review of 162 pediatric patients with retropharyngeal abscess at St. Louis Children's Hospital revealed an average age of 4.9 years (range, 6 d to 17 y). [17]

  • A 5-year review of 11 children with parapharyngeal abscess in Portugal revealed an average age of 3.3 years (range, 0-12 y). [3]

  • A 12-year retrospective review of 50 pediatric patients with deep neck infections in Taipei revealed that all of the retropharyngeal abscesses occurred in children younger than 10 years. [19]

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