Which physical findings are characteristic of peritonsillar abscess (PTA)?

Updated: Apr 06, 2020
  • Author: Udayan K Shah, MD, FACS, FAAP; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Physical examination of a peritonsillar abscess (PTA) almost always reveals unilateral bulging above and lateral to one of the tonsils. Trismus is always present in varying severity. The abscess rarely is located adjacent to the inferior pole of the tonsil. Inferior pole PTA is a difficult diagnosis to make, and radiologic imaging with a contrast-enhanced CT scan is helpful. Tender cervical adenopathy and torticollis (neck turned in the cock-robin position) may be present. Ipsilateral otalgia may be observed.

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