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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 228-231

Features of prevertebral disease in patients presenting to a head and neck surgery clinic with neck pain

1 Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA
2 Department of Radiology, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA
3 Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, King AbdulAziz University; International Medical Center, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
4 Department of Surgery, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA

Correspondence Address:
Basem T Jamal
King AbdulAziz University Hospital, Jeddah
Saudi Arabia
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DOI: 10.4103/ams.ams_54_17

PMID: 29264290

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Introduction: Untreated prevertebral space infections, which can be overlooked because of connections with surrounding spaces, may lead to spinal epidural accumulations that cause cord compression. The aim of this study was to analyze the epidemiologic and diagnostic features of cases of prevertebral disease encountered by head and neck specialists. Materials and Methods: The study was designed as a retrospective chart review of 11 patients with prevertebral disease who presented to a head and neck surgery specialist for consultation from 2004 to 2010. Epidemiologic characteristics, clinical signs, diagnostic modalities, time to diagnosis, treatment, and final outcome were analyzed. Ethical Approval: This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors. Results: Seven patients were diagnosed with prevertebral abscess, two with prevertebral cellulitis, and two with calcific cervical tendonitis. The most common presenting signs were neck pain (100%), odynophagia (54%), dysphagia (36%), neck rigidity (36%), fever (27%), and back pain (9%). Five patients (45.5%) showed a bulge on the posterior pharyngeal wall. Four patients with prevertebral abscess showed epidural accumulations on magnetic resonance imaging. Patients with prevertebral abscess and cellulitis were treated with surgical drainage or intravenous antibiotics or both while patients with calcific cervical tendonitis were treated with anti-inflammatory and pain medications. Ten patients were cured, and one with multiple comorbidities succumbed to the disease. Conclusion: Clinicians should have a high index of suspicion of prevertebral abscess or cellulitis in patients presenting with neck pain, fever, dysphagia, and limited range of motion of the neck. Head and neck specialists may be the first to encounter and diagnose this highly morbid disease.

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