What is the anatomy of the danger space relevant to deep neck infections?

Updated: Apr 30, 2020
  • Author: Alan D Murray, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Danger space

  • The danger space is immediately posterior to the retropharyngeal space and immediately anterior to the prevertebral space, between the alar and prevertebral divisions of the deep layer of the deep cervical fascia. It extends from the skull base to the posterior mediastinum and diaphragm. Laterally, it is limited by the fusion of the alar and prevertebral division with the transverse processes of the vertebrae. Some authors consider the danger space a component of the prevertebral space.

  • Infections in this region may be extensions of retropharyngeal, parapharyngeal, or prevertebral infections.

  • Spread within the danger space tends to occur rapidly because of the loose areolar tissue that occupies this region. This spread can lead to mediastinitis, empyema, and sepsis.

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