Epiglottitis in adult

Case contributed by Dr Andrew Ho


Acute fever, dysphagia, and sore throat.

Patient Data

Age: 20 years
Gender: Male

Single upright lateral radiograph reveals a markedly thickened epiglottis, the classic "thumb" appearance (arrow). Note is also made of oxygen tubing around the patient's ears and nose.

Case Discussion

Acute epiglottitis most commonly occurs in kids between 2-8 years old but it can present in any age.  Adult acute epiglottitis usually presents as upper respiratory tract infection.  Adults do not present with the classic respiratory distress (i.e. stridor) and tripod posturing such as in children.  The most common presentation in adults are:

  • sore throat (100%)
  • trouble swallowing (94%)
  • difficulty swallowing own secretions (63%)
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Case information

rID: 22906
Published: 2nd May 2013
Last edited: 14th Aug 2019
System: Head & Neck
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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