Retropharyngeal (reh-tro-fah-RIN-jee-ul) abscess is an area of infected, pus-filled tissue that forms in the deep tissues in the back of the throat. An abscess is a collection of pus made up of white blood cells, debris, and germs that cause infection.
In the back of the throat, there is a structure called the pharynx, which sits behind the nasal cavity and the mouth. The pharynx helps to assist in breathing, eating, and talking. Behind the pharynx in the deeper tissues is a layer of soft tissue called the retropharyngeal space. An abscess in this space is usually a complication of a tonsil, sinus, or ear infection.
Retropharyngeal abscess can cause pain, difficulty swallowing, drooling, neck stiffness, and breathing difficulties.
Retropharyngeal abscess is a serious infection that may be life threatening if left untreated. It can usually be treated with antibiotics and by a surgical procedure that involves draining the abscess. It's important to treat retropharyngeal abscess early, before the infection spreads or causes difficulty breathing. If you have concerns, see a doctor right away.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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