Peritonsillar Abscess


  • Deep Neck Infection (see Deep Neck Infection)
    • Peritonsillar space can be involved by extension from a tonsillar abscess
  • Peritonsillar abscesses (due to tonsillar infections) represent the most common type of deep neck space abscess


  • Location: located lateral to tonsils
    • Patients who have had their tonsils removed effectvely lose this space, but they can still develop a peritonsillar abscess
  • Anatomic Commnuication
    • Exit: abscess mat spread from peritonsillar space to the parapharyngeal space

Clinical Presentations

  • Trismus
  • Pain
  • Odynophagia
  • Drooling
  • “Hot Potato” Voice
  • Fever
  • Uvular Deviation
  • Palatal Asymmetry
  • Medial Displacement of Tonsil
  • Tonsillar Erythema/Exudates: however, these may be mild, even in the presence of a peritonsillar abscess
  • Acute Upper Airway Obstruction (see Obstructive Lung Disease)
    • Symptoms may progress rapidly: stridor, dyspnea
    • Acute Respiratory Failure (see Acute Hypoventilation): due to high-grade upper airway obstruction with excessive work of breathing



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