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August 1991

Gilding the Lily

Author Affiliations

Director of University Health Services Brandeis University PO Box 9110 Waltham, MA 02254-9110

Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(8):849. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160080023012

Sir.—I am writing in regard to the Radiological Case of the Month on retropharyngeal abscess published in the December 1990 issue of AJDC.1

Although Fig 2 of this article is a very nice exhibit of an abscess, I fail to see the necessity of computed tomography as part of the evaluation and treatment of a peritonsillar or retropharyngeal abscess. In the discussion, the computed tomographic scan adds little to the diagnosis or treatment. I can assure you, it adds much to the high cost of medical care.

The publication of such photos can be easily misinterpreted as a demonstration of the proper procedure in handling such cases. It is not. It is, in fact, an abuse of the available technology. It is abuses such as this that bring such strong reactions to control medical practice as a means of controlling medical costs.

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