, Volume 187, Issue 5, pp 271–279

Severe Soft Tissue Infections of the Head and Neck: A Primer for Critical Care Physicians


DOI: 10.1007/s00408-009-9153-7

Cite this article as:
Reynolds, S.C. & Chow, A.W. Lung (2009) 187: 271. doi:10.1007/s00408-009-9153-7


Patients with severe infections of the potential spaces of the head and neck are commonly managed in the ICU. These infections may present with devastating complications such as airway obstruction, jugular septic thrombophlebitis, lung abscess, upper airway abscess rupture with asphyxiation, mediastinitis, pericarditis, and septic shock. A thorough understanding of the anatomy and microbiology of these infections is essential for proper management of these patients. Retropharyngeal, danger, prevertebral, lateral pharyngeal, and submandibular space infections and their site-specific clinical manifestations, complications, and therapeutic interventions are discussed.


Submandibular space infectionsLateral pharyngeal space infectionsParapharyngeal infectionsRetropharyngeal space infectionsDanger space infectionsPrevertebral abscessesHead and neck infectionsDeep cervical infections

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Critical Care, Department of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverBCCanada
  2. 2.Division of Infectious DiseasesSt. Paul’s HospitalVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Intensive Care Unit, Royal Columbian HospitalNew WestminsterCanada
  4. 4.Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverBCCanada
  5. 5.Division of Infectious DiseasesVancouver HospitalWest VancouverCanada