The study aims to present our experience of the clinical course and management of deep neck infection and try to determine if the characteristics of this kind of infection were similar between the children and adults in southern China.
Patients diagnosed with deep neck infection in the Division of Otolaryngology in the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat–sen University between January 2002 and December 2011 were screened retrospectively for demographic characteristics, presenting symptoms, antibiotic therapy before admission, the history of antibiotics abuse, leucocyte count, etiology, bacteriology, disease comorbidity, imaging, treatment, complications, and outcomes.
One hundred thirty patients were included and 44 (33.8%) were younger than 18 years old (the children group), 86 patients (66.2%) were older than 18 years old (the adults group). Fever, trismus, neck pain, and odynophagia were the most common symptoms in both groups. Forty children (90.9%) and 49 adults (57.0%) had been treated with broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy before admission. Thirty one children (70.5%) and 24 adults (27.9%) had a history of antibiotics abuse. In children group, the site most commonly involved was the parapharyngeal space (18 patients, 40.9%). In adults group, the site most commonly involved was multispace (30 patients, 34.9%). In children group, the most common cause was branchial cleft cyst (5 patients, 11.4%) and the cause remained unknown in 31 patients (70.5%). In adults group, the most common cause was pharyngeal infection (19 patients, 22.2%). All of the 27 patients with associated disease comorbidity were adults and 17 were diabetes mellitus (DM). Streptococcus viridans was the most common pathogen in both children and adults groups. Eighty six (66.2%) underwent surgical drainage and complications were found in 31 patients (4 children, 27 adults).
Deep neck infection in adults is easier to have multispace involvement and lead to complications and appears to be more serious than that in children. Understanding the different characteristics between the children and adults with deep neck infection may be helpful in accurate evaluation and proper management.