Which deep neck infections may be treated medically?

Updated: Apr 30, 2020
  • Author: Alan D Murray, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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The greatest controversy regarding deep neck infections concerns whether all deep neck abscesses require surgical treatment or whether some abscesses can be treated medically. As previously discussed, articles by Broughton and Lalakea and Messner suggest that in selected cases involving patients with no signs of respiratory distress or other impending complications, some small deep neck abscesses can be treated with a trial of IV antibiotics alone, particularly in children. [25, 34] Surgical therapy can be reserved for patients whose symptoms do not respond within 48 hours. However, this issue is still being debated in the literature, and clinical judgment must be used with each individual patient.

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