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Deep neck space infection extending to the mediastinum that was treated conservatively


Deep neck space infections (DNSIs) are challenging to diagnose and manage. A female ex-smoker presented with difficulty breathing and chest pain. She was initially treated for exacerbation of emphysema with intravenous antibiotics. The ear, nose and throat team were later asked to review the patient for left submandibular swelling and odynophagia. CT of the neck was performed 10 days later, due to limited availability during COVID-19. It showed an extensive retropharyngeal collection from the level of the vallecula to just above the carina. Normally, a DNSI extending to the mediastinum would require prompt surgical management. However, the patient was clinically well once imaged, so the abscess was managed conservatively with intravenous antibiotics.

  • COVID-19
  • Radiology
  • Head and neck surgery
  • Otolaryngology / ENT

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