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Conductive hearing loss
Eustachian tube dysfunction
Tympanic membrane perforation
Age-related macular degeneration
Retinopathy of prematurity
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Retropharyngeal and peritonsillar abscesses
Thyroglossal duct cyst
Acoustic neuroma (schwannoma)
Eye conditions: Inflammation, infections and trauma: Pathology review
Eye conditions: Refractive errors, lens disorders and glaucoma: Pathology review
Eye conditions: Retinal disorders: Pathology review
Nasal, oral and pharyngeal diseases: Pathology review
Parathyroid disorders and calcium imbalance: Pathology review
Thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer: Pathology review
Vertigo: Pathology review
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With a retropharyngeal and peritonsillar abscess, an abscess is a collection of pus, and retropharyngeal and peritonsillar describe where the abscess is found.
A retropharyngeal abscess develops behind the pharynx - in the tissue that lies just behind the back of the throat.
A peritonsillar abscess develops around the tonsils, particularly the palatine tonsils which are at the back of the throat.
Let’s start by better defining the locations of these spaces.
The retropharyngeal space is the region between the pharynx and vertebrae and is bound posteriorly, closer to the vertebrae, by the alar fascia and anteriorly, closer to the pharynx, by the buccopharyngeal fascia.
These fascial layers are thin fibrous layers that coat muscles, tendons, and bones muscle, and between them in the retropharyngeal space are lymph nodes.
These lymph nodes are like surveillance stations that bring in lymphatic fluid from the throat and other nearby tissue.
If there are pathogens in that lymphatic tissue, immune cells in the lymph node can respond and try to destroy the invading pathogens.
Next, is the peritonsillar region which refers to the palatine tonsils.
The palatine tonsils are on either side of the oropharynx and are attached to the soft palate at the back of the oral cavity. They’re basically dense collections of lymphatic tissue wrapped within a fibrous capsule - like tiny lymph burritos, that help defend against pathogens in the food and air.
Retropharyngeal abscesses are collections of pus that occur in the retropharyngeal space, the soft tissue space behind the pharynx. Peritonsillar abscesses occur in the tissue surrounding the tonsils. Such abscesses are often caused by bacterial infections, and the most culprit agents are Staphylococcus aureus, Group A Streptococci, and Haemophilus parainfluenzae. Both types of abscesses can cause severe pain and difficulty swallowing, and can lead to airway obstruction if left untreated. They are typically treated with surgical drainage, antibiotics, and steroids, particularly in situations where there is a lot of inflammation that obstructs the airway.
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