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Parapharyngeal abscess and mediastinitis are rare but very severe post-operative complications following an elective tonsillectomy. Parapharyngeal abscess as a complication to tonsilectomy is very seldom described in the literature and no cases in the paediatric population have been described.
This paper presents, to our knowledge, the first case of life-threatening parapharyngeal abscess and mediastinitis following elective adenotonsillectomy in an otherwise healthy, fully vaccinated 10-year-old girl.
Diagnosing parapharyngeal abscess and mediastinitis can be challenging, but should be suspected and ruled out in cases of post-operative odynophagia, fever, and/or neck swelling and thoracic pain. Diagnosis is made based on magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography findings. Prompt broad-spectrum intravenous antibiotic treatment and surgical drainage should be initiated. Other severe complications such as meningitis should also be considered.
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