Background: Because of a recent upsurge in retropharyngeal abscess (RPA) cases due to community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), we reevaluated the microbiology, clinical manifestations and treatment outcome of RPA over the past 6 years (2004 to 2010). Findings were compared with those of a previous 11-year study (1993 to 2003) period.
Methods: A retrospective review of medical records of children with RPA.
Results: One hundred fourteen children (61 males) with RPA were identified representing a 2.8-fold increase in incidence (per 10,000 admissions) over the previous 11-year period. Abscess drainage was performed in 74 (65%). A total of 116 isolates (93 aerobes, 23 anaerobes) were recovered from 66 specimens. S. aureus was recovered from 25 (38%) of the 66 specimens compared with 2 (4.9%) of 41 in the previous 11 years; 16 (64%) of 25 were MRSA compared with none in the previous 11 years. Children whose abscess grew MRSA were younger (mean 11 months) than the others (mean 62 months) (P < 0.001) and required longer duration of hospitalization (mean 8.8 days) than the rest (mean 4.5 days) (P = 0.002). Five children had mediastinitis; all caused by MRSA. All MRSA isolates were susceptible to clindamycin. Ceftriaxone plus clindamycin was the most common treatment regimen. All patients had resolution of their abscesses.
Conclusions: RPA has increased in frequency in our pediatric population with an associated increase of Staphylococcus aureus, mainly community-associated MRSA. This is likely due to the overall increase in community-associated MRSA infections in our pediatric patients. Treatment with ceftriaxone and clindamycin in addition to surgical drainage was effective.