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July 1974

Retropharyngeal Infection in Adults

Author Affiliations

Nashville, Tenn; Galveston, Tex; Nashville, Tenn

From the Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville Metropolitan General Hospital, and the Veterans Administration Hospital, Nashville, Tenn (Drs. Bryan and Bryant); and the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Texas Medical Branch and the Public Health Service Hospital, Galveston, Tex (Dr. King).

Arch Intern Med. 1974;134(1):127-130. doi:10.1001/archinte.1974.00320190129020

Retropharyngeal infection is mainly a disease of early childhood, caused by an extension of suppuration to the retropharyngeal lymph nodes. These nodes usually atrophy prior to adulthood. Retropharyngeal infection in adults is considered rare and has received little attention in the recent literature. Our purpose is to report four cases in adults and to emphasize the essential features of two distinct life-threatening syndromes associated with this illness.

Patient Summaries 

Cervical Prevertebral Space Infection.—Patient 1.  —A 58-year-old man was admitted to the Nashville Metropolitan General Hospital with a fever. He described posterior cervical and left shoulder pain of two to three years' duration. Ten days prior to admission, he developed a "cold," and five days prior to admission he noted fever, dyspnea, and dysuria. He was acutely ill with a temperature of 39 C (102 F) by rectum, a pulse of 92 beats per minute, and labored respirations of 24

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