What is Retropharyngeal abscess?
Most commonly seen in infants and young children, retropharyngeal abscess (RPA) is an abscess located in the tissues in the back of the throat behind the posterior pharyngeal wall (the retropharyngeal space). Because RPAs typically occur in deep tissue, they are difficult to diagnose by physical examination alone. RPA is a relatively uncommon illness, and therefore may not receive early diagnosis in children presenting with stiff neck, malaise, difficulty swallowing, or other symptoms listed below. Early diagnosis is key, while a delay in diagnosis and treatment may lead to death. Parapharyngeal space communicates with retropharyngeal space and an infection of retropharyngeal space can pass down behind the oesophagus into mediastinum. RPAs can also occur in adults of any age.
RPA can lead to airway obstruction or sepsis - both life-threatening emergencies. Fatalities normally occur from patients not receiving treatment immediately and suffocating prior to knowing that anything serious was wrong.