Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Severe parapharyngeal abscess that developed significant complications: management during the COVID-19 pandemic


A 50-year-old Caucasian man presented to the emergency department during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic with a rapidly progressive facial swelling, fever, malaise and myalgia. The patient had recently travelled to a COVID-19-prevalent European country and was therefore treated as COVID-19 suspect. The day before, the patient sustained a burn to his left forearm after falling unconscious next to a radiator. A CT neck and thorax showed a parapharyngeal abscess, which was surgically drained, and the patient was discharged following an intensive care admission. He then developed mediastinitis 3 weeks post-discharge which required readmission and transfer to a cardiothoracic unit for surgical drainage. This report discusses the evolution of a deep neck space infection into a mediastinitis, a rare and life-threatening complication, despite early surgical drainage. This report also highlights the difficulties faced with managing patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • ear
  • nose and throat/otolaryngology
  • anaesthesia
  • cardiothoracic surgery
  • oral and maxillofacial surgery

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.