Retropharyngeal abscess

Case contributed by Dr Ian Bickle


55 year old lady, with pain in the neck on swallowing following perceived fish bone ingestion 4 days earlier. Known diabetic.

Patient Data

Age: 55
Gender: Female

Marked widening of the pre-vertebral soft tissue between C2 and C7, with multiple gas foci within at the C3-C4 level.

Annotated image

Annotations showing the normal width of the pre-vertebral soft tissue at the various cervical levels.

The annotated pathological images reveals the magnitude of the soft tissue widening.




Huge fluid-gas filled rim enhancing abscess in the retropharyngeal space.

Its extends over nearly the whole length of the cervical spine.

Case Discussion

Knowledge of the deep spaces of the neck are important, especially in the diagnosis and management of neck infections.

The surgical approach and patient outcome is determined by the space or spaces involved.

This case illustrates a large retropharyngeal abscess, which was subsequently surgically drained.

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Case information

rID: 30018
Published: 13th Jul 2014
Last edited: 14th Aug 2019
System: Head & Neck
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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