Risk factors for deep neck infection in patients with sore throat and neck pain

Sung Jin Bae, Seong In Hong, Dong Hoon Lee, Ho Sub Chung, Yoon Hee Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Deep neck infection (DNI) is a potentially life-threatening disease because infections spread quickly, causing serious complications. Therefore, more attention is needed than other neck infections, but there are many difficulties due to isolation guidelines in the period of coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. We investigated the early predictability of DNI through patient symptoms at the first emergency department encounter. METHODS: This was a retrospective study of patients with suspected soft-tissue neck infections from January 2016 to February 2021. Symptoms were retrospectively analyzed in fever, foreign body sensation, chest discomfort/pain, submandibular pain, odynopha-gia, dysphagia, voice change, and severe pain. Furthermore, baseline characteristic data, laboratory findings, and pre-vertebral soft-tissue (PVST) thickness were evaluated. DNI and other neck infections were diagnosed through computed tomography. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine the independent factors for predicting DNI. RESULTS: In the 793 patients included in the study, 267 (33.7%) were diagnosed with DNI, and 526 (66.3%) were diagnosed with other soft-tissue neck infections. In the comparison between the two groups, C-reactive protein (CRP), sodium, PT (INR), foreign body sensation, chest discomfort/pain, submandibular pain, odynophagia, dysphagia, severe pain, and PVST thickness showed statistically significant differences. Independent factors for predicting DNI were severe pain (odds ratio: 6.336 [3.635–11.045], p<0.001), foreign body sensation (odds ratio: 7.384 [2.776–19.642], p<0.001), submandibular pain (odds ratio: 4.447 [2.852–6.932], p<0.001), and dysphagia (odds ratio: 52.118 [8.662–313.588], p<0.001) among symptoms and CRP (odds ratio: 1.034 [1.004–1.065], p=0.026) and PT (INR) (odds ratio: 29.660 [3.363–261.598], p=0.002) in laboratory tests. PVST thickness at C2 (odds ratio: 1.953 [1.609–2.370], p<0.001) and C6 level (odds ratio: 1.179 [1.054–1.319], p=0.004) was also shown as an independent variable for prediction. CONCLUSION: Among patients with sore throat or neck pain, patients with dysphagia, foreign body sensation, severe pain, and submandibular pain are more likely to have DN. DNI can cause serious complications; therefore, patients with the above symptoms should be closely observed due to the potential for significant complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-704
Number of pages7
JournalUlusal Travma ve Acil Cerrahi Dergisi
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Turkish Association of Trauma and Emergency Surgery. All rights reserved.


  • COVID-19
  • deep neck space infection
  • delayed treatments
  • emergency department
  • signs and symptoms
  • sore throat


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