Head and neck emergencies: bacterial meningitis, encephalitis, brain abscess, upper airway obstruction, and jugular septic thrombophlebitis.
Head and neck infectious disease emergencies can be rapidly fatal without prompt recognition and treatment. Empiric intravenous (IV) antibiotics should be initiated immediately in any patient with suspected bacterial meningitis, and IV acyclovir in any patient with suspected encephalitis. Surgical intervention is often necessary for brain abscesses, epiglottitis, and Ludwig's angina. A high index of suspicion is often needed to diagnose epiglottitis, Ludwig's angina, and Lemierre's syndrome. Brain infections can have high morbidity among survivors. In this article, the causes, diagnostic tests, treatment, and prognosis are reviewed for some of the more common head and neck infectious disease emergencies. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.