Uvulitis refers to inflammation of the uvula, which results most commonly from infection or trauma. Acute infection of the uvula should be suspected when the uvula is the most inflamed structure in the posterior pharynx of a febrile patient . Infectious uvulitis usually occurs in the context of pharyngitis; it is uncommon for the uvula to be the only or predominant focus of infection (picture 1).
The epidemiology, etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of uvulitis will be reviewed here. Epiglottitis, pharyngitis, and deep neck space infections are discussed separately.
The uvula is an extension of the soft palate. It consists of a vascularized core of smooth muscle and connective tissue surrounded by an epithelial layer . The epithelium contains mucous glands and mast cells. The subepithelium contains macrophages and gamma-delta T cells, which appear to form a protective barrier and may account for the relative rarity of uvular infection .
The exact incidence of infectious uvulitis is not known. It appears to be uncommon in all age groups, but to occur more frequently among children than adults. Cases reported in adults often are noninfectious (eg, related to trauma, inhalation of irritants, etc) (table 1). (See 'Noninfectious causes' below.)