Streptococcus milleri: An Organism for Head and Neck Infections and Abscess | Infectious Diseases | JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery | JAMA Network
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Original Article
June 2001

Streptococcus milleri: An Organism for Head and Neck Infections and Abscess

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology and Communications Sciences, Medical College of Wisconsin, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2001;127(6):650-654. doi:10.1001/archotol.127.6.650

Background  Streptococcus milleri, a commensal organism, has the potential to cause significant morbidity. There is a paucity of published data regarding this organism in the head and neck.

Objectives  To identify and assess the presentation, treatment, and outcomes of pediatric patients affected by this pathogen.

Study Design  Review of the Department of Pathology database at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, between 1997 and 1999 identified 26 patients with cultures positive for S milleri group (SMG) bacteria. Retrospective chart analysis examined the demographic data, site of origin of infection, additional organisms cultured, symptoms, treatments, and complications.

Results  Sixteen patients had SMG infections involving the head and neck region. Sites of origin included the paranasal sinuses, dental, facial soft tissues, deep neck spaces, peritonsillar region, and a tracheostomy site. The paranasal sinuses were the most common site in 37% (6/16). Streptococcus milleri was the only isolate in 69% (11) of the infections. Significant local extension occurred in 56% (9/16) of the patients and included the orbit, skull base, cranium, and deep neck spaces. All patients had surgical drainage and 15 also received intravenous antibiotic treatment. One complication of osteomyelitis of the frontal bone occurred with resolution after surgical debridement and intravenous antibiotic treatment.

Conclusions  Streptococcus milleri can be an aggressive pathogen in the head and neck with a propensity for abscess formation and local extension of the infection in a pediatric population. Surgical drainage with antibiotics is generally successful in management of the condition. However, emerging penicillin resistance and the ability for local extension require suspicion of incomplete treatment if clinical symptoms persist.