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BMJ Case Reports 2013; doi:10.1136/bcr-2012-007928
  • CASE REPORT

An unusual presentation of herpes infection in the head and neck

  1. Brian M Fish2
  1. 1Department of ENT, Medway Maritime Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2Department of ENT, Addenbrookes, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Ali Sanei-Moghaddam, ali.sanei-moghaddam{at}nhs.net

Summary

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is among a spectrum of viruses known to affect the upper aerodigestive tract. Gingivostomatitis and pharyngitis are the most common clinical manifestations of first-episode HSV infection, whereas recurrent herpes labialis is the most common clinical manifestation of reactivation HSV infection. Herpetic viral infections seldom attack the larynx. Laryngeal disorders provoked by the herpes virus are characterised by a large spectrum of presentations and polymorphisms, and can simulate mucous lesions such as an extensive laryngeal neoplasm (supraglottic tumour). We report a case of a 69-year-old woman, smoker, who presented with a large ulcerated supraglottic mass mimicking laryngeal cancer, requiring emergency tracheostomy for worsening stridor, which turned out to be an HSV laryngitis superimposed onto an underlying Streptococcus A lower respiratory tract infection. The patient was treated for Streptococcus A infection and her symptoms resolved following treatment. Patient's tracheotomy tube was removed on follow-up appointment.

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