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Epiglottitis (supraglottitis): Management

Charles R Woods, MD, MS
Section Editors
Gary R Fleisher, MD
Glenn C Isaacson, MD, FAAP
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


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".)


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).


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: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 06, 2017.
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