BMJ Case Reports 2013; doi:10.1136/bcr-2013-009684

Retropharyngeal cellulitis in adolescence

  1. Naoki Yahagi2
  1. 1Department of Pediatrics, Ohta Nishinouchi Hospital, Koriyama, Fukushima, Japan
  2. 2Department of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, The University of Tokyo, BunkyoKu, Tokyo, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ryota Inokuchi, inokuchir-icu{at}


A healthy 10-year-old boy presented with fever and progressively worsening sore throat and dysphagia. Physical examination showed pharyngeal erythema with tender left cervical lymphadenopathy. Radiography revealed 9 mm deep prevertebral soft tissues at the C2 level, and contrast-enhanced CT showed fluid collection with no major ring enhancement in the retropharyngeal space. He was diagnosed with retropharyngeal cellulitis and treated with intravenous antibiotics. Retropharyngeal cellulitis or abscess is a relatively rare infection in adolescents but is more frequent in 2–4-year-old children. Retropharyngeal cellulitis may rapidly extend caudally, with fatal consequences. For adolescents, physicians need to be aware of this clinical entity and carefully evaluate imaging findings even when only the mild pharyngeal physical findings are noted.

Register for free content

The full text of all Editor's Choice articles and summaries of every article are free without registration

The full text of Images in ... articles are free to registered users

Only fellows can access the full text of case reports (apart from Editor's Choice) - become a fellow today, or encourage your institution to, so that together we can grow and develop this resource

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the case reports as they are published, and let us know what you think by commenting on the Editor's blog

Navigate This Article