What are the possible complications of a retropharyngeal abscess (RPA)?

Updated: Jan 08, 2021
  • Author: Joseph H Kahn, MD; Chief Editor: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Complications of retropharyngeal abscess may include the following [62, 63, 64, 65, 4, 7] :

  • Airway obstruction
  • Acute necrotizing mediastinitis - 25% mortality in adults
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Sepsis
  • Pleural involvement
  • Atlanto-occipital dislocation
  • Erosion of the second and third cervical vertebrae
  • Cranial nerve deficits - Cranial nerves IX-XII are contained in the cervical fascia
  • Carotid sheath involvement
  • Carotid artery rupture
  • Suppurative jugular thrombophlebitis
  • Compression of carotid artery and internal jugular vein
  • Facial nerve palsy
  • Esophageal perforation
  • Purulent meningoencephalitis
  • Septic embolization

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