The aim of this article is to study the clinical features, management, and outcome in adult patients with acute supraglottitis.
We searched the medical records from our database from the years 1989 to 2009 using codes of international statistical classification of diseases and related health problems for acute epiglottitis or supraglottitis. In total, 308 patients were identified.
Incidence of acute supraglottitis increased from 1.88 (first decade) to 4.73 per 100,000 cases (second decade) (P = .05). The mean age of the patients was 49 years old with a slightly male predominance. Sore throat and odynophagia were the most common symptoms. Concomitant disease were common among the patients. Isolated inflammation of epiglottis without involvement of other supraglottic tissue was detected only in 51 patients. Intravenous cephalosporins were the most common empiric antibiotic treatment regimen. Intravenous corticosteroids were administered to half of the cases. Streptococcus was the most common organism in throat cultures. In total, 45 patients needed airway intervention. Complications were rare and mortality was 0.6% in our series.
Acute supraglottitis in adults seems to be a different entity than epiglottitis in children, and inflammation does not usually exclusively involve the epiglottis. Early diagnosis seems to decrease the need for airway intervention and to permit the successful treatment of the patient with intravenous antibiotics and corticosteroids. Streptococcus appears as the dominant causative microorganism. However systemic diseases and other local infections that compromise the regional supraglottic immunity may increase the risk for acute supraglottitis.