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Epiglottitis (supraglottitis): Management

Author
Charles R Woods, MD, MS
Section Editors
Gary R Fleisher, MD
Ron M Walls, MD, FRCPC, FAAEM
Glenn C Isaacson, MD, FAAP
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH

INTRODUCTION

The treatment and prevention of epiglottitis will be reviewed here. The clinical features and diagnosis of epiglottitis are discussed separately. (See "Epiglottitis (supraglottitis): Clinical features and diagnosis".)

DEFINITION

Epiglottitis is inflammation of the epiglottis and adjacent supraglottic structures [1]. Without treatment, epiglottitis can progress to life-threatening airway obstruction. A rapid overview of the recognition and management of epiglottitis in children is provided in the table (table 1).

DIAGNOSIS

Maintenance of the airway is the mainstay of treatment of patients with epiglottitis. In patients with signs of total or near-total airway obstruction, airway control necessarily precedes diagnostic evaluation. The diagnostic evaluation of epiglottitis in children and adults is discussed in detail separately. (See "Epiglottitis (supraglottitis): Clinical features and diagnosis", section on 'Diagnostic criteria'.)

Epiglottitis should be suspected in young children, especially those who are un- or under-immunized against Haemophilus influenzae, type b (Hib) and who present with the characteristic clinical features as follows:

"Tripod" position (picture 1)

               

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Literature review current through: May 2017. | This topic last updated: Apr 19, 2017.
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