[Skip to Navigation]
June 1971

Fatal Mediastinitis Following Retropharyngeal Abscess

Author Affiliations

New York
From the Department of Otolaryngology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, and the Head and Neck Service of Presbyterian Hospital, New York.

Arch Otolaryngol. 1971;93(6):630-633. doi:10.1001/archotol.1971.00770060932017

A thoracic infection originating in the oropharynx is reviewed in the light of anatomical pathways and bacteriology. Simple sore throat was followed by extensive neck swelling causing airway obstruction and necessitating an emergency tracheotomy. The retropharyngeal fascial space served as a route for the spread of an overwhelming infection along cervical planes into the mediastinum and both pleural cavities. The offending organism was identified as a gas-producing Bacteroides. Despite massive antibiotic therapy, tracheotomy, and surgical drainage of both the retropharyngeal space and the pleural cavity, the patient died.

Add or change institution