Acute epiglottitis in adults: a retrospective review of 106 patients in Hong Kong.

Research paper by H L HL Ng, L M LM Sin, M F MF Li, T L TL Que, S S Anandaciva

Indexed on: 25 Apr '08Published on: 25 Apr '08Published in: Emergency medicine journal : EMJ


Acute epiglottitis in adult is a potentially life-threatening condition that may be underdiagnosed. The present study reports the clinical features, management and patient outcomes in an acute hospital in Hong Kong over a seven-year period.All adult patients aged 18 years or above admitted to Tuen Mun Hospital between July 1999 and June 2006 with the diagnosis of acute epiglottitis were included in this retrospective study. The diagnosis of acute epiglottitis was established by direct visualisation of inflamed epiglottis during laryngoscopic examination.106 patients were identified. A total of 21 patients (20%) had co-morbidities, with diabetes mellitus (11%) being the most common. Five patients had a history of nasopharyngeal carcinoma and three patients had a previous history of acute epiglottitis. The majority (94%) of patients presented with sore throat as their major complaint. Blood cultures were collected from 15 patients and all were negative. A combination of cefotaxime and metronidazole was the most common empirical antibiotic regimen prescribed. Seven patients required active airway intervention (six with endotracheal intubation and one failed intubation with emergency tracheostomy performed). No mortality was reported.Acute epiglottitis in adults is not a rare entity and vigilance for this condition is needed. In general, the prognosis is good with antimicrobial therapy, close monitoring and selective airway intervention.