The objective of this study was to review our pediatric emergency department’s (ED’s) utilization of computed tomography (CT) in the diagnosis of peritonsillar abscess (PTA) and treatment outcomes.
This study used case series with chart review.
From January 2007 to January 2009, 148 patients were seen in our ED for possible PTA. Mean age at presentation was 11.8 years (range, 10 months to 18 years); 81 (54.7%) of 148 were females. Computed tomography was ordered in 96 (64.9%) of 148 patients, of which 73 (49.3%) 148 were confirmed to have PTA. Mean age of patients who underwent CT was younger when compared with those who did not have CT performed (mean, 11 vs 13 years; P = 0.02). Unilateral PTA was found in 65 (43.9%) of 148, bilateral in 8 (5.4%) of 148, and intratonsillar in 25 patients (16.9%). Concomitant CT findings of parapharyngeal space involvement were found in 19 (12.8%), and retropharyngeal space involvement in 11 (7.4%). Admission was necessary for 104 (71.2%) of 148 patients, whereas 42 were discharged from the ED. Transoral needle aspiration and/or incision and drainage were performed in the ED in 41 patients, with purulence identified in 33 (80.5%) of 41. Rapid strep testing was positive in 40 (32%) of 124 patients tested. Operative treatment was necessary in 44 patients (29.7%), 34 underwent incision and drainage, and 10 underwent quinsy tonsillectomy.
Computed tomography is commonly utilized in the ED for the evaluation of PTA and is ordered more often in younger children.