Demographics

Retropharyngeal abscess, although rare, is the second most commonly seen infection of the deep neck space.33 The usual age range is 6 months to 4 years, with peak incidence in infants. Retropharyngeal abscess is quite rare after age 4 because repeated upper respiratory-type infections have obliterated the retropharyngeal lymph nodes by this age in most children. Most cases of retropharyngeal abscess evolve insidiously over a few days after a relatively minor upper respiratory infection or pharyngitis. Localized trauma to the posterior pharyngeal wall is another cause. This most commonly occurs in children who fall with a stick or similar object in their mouths.

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