An abscess (Latin: abscessus) is a collection of pus (dead neutrophils) that has accumulated in a cavity formed by the tissue on the basis of an infectious process (usually caused by bacteria or parasites) or other foreign materials (e.g. splinters, bullet wounds, or injecting needles). It is a defensive reaction of the tissue to prevent the spread of infectious materials to other parts of the body.
Retro (behind) pharyngeal (the pharynx) abscess (pocket of pus or infection)
It is a pocket of infection behind the throat.
A retropharyngeal abscess is an infection in one of the deep spaces of the neck. An abscess in this location is an immediate life-threatening emergency, with potential for airway compromise and other catastrophic complications. Physicians must be familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of a retropharyngeal abscess.
In order to understand deep space infections, a working knowledge of the anatomy of the various fascial planes in the neck is necessary. Several layers of superficial and deep fascia are found in the neck. While some are tightly adherent to their adjacent structures, potential spaces (ie, soft tissue planed bordered by fascia) separate other layers of fascia. Normally, no actual space exists; however, an infection can create a real space with rapid spread of inflammation and pus in the space between the fascial layers.
The retropharyngeal space is located immediately posterior to the nasopharynx, oropharynx, hypopharynx, larynx, and trachea. The visceral (ie, buccopharyngeal) fascia, which surrounds the pharynx, trachea, esophagus, and thyroid, forms the anterior border of the retropharyngeal space. Bounded posteriorly by the alar fascia, the retropharyngeal space is bounded laterally by the carotid sheaths and parapharyngeal spaces. It extends superiorly to the base of the skull and inferiorly to the mediastinum at the level of the tracheal bifurcation (see anatomy figure in Image 1).
Two other potential spaces (ie, danger space, prevertebral space) also are present. The danger space is formed anteriorly by the alar fascia and posteriorly by the prevertebral fascia. The prevertebral space is bounded anteriorly by the prevertebral fascia and posteriorly by the longus colli muscles of the spine. The danger space extends down the mediastinum to the level of the diaphragm, while the prevertebral space continues to the insertion of the psoas muscles.
Some authors consider the danger space as part of the retropharyngeal space, while others consider the danger space to be part of the prevertebral space. Still other authors refer to all 3 deep potential spaces as the retropharyngeal space.
· 10 years ago