Skill Checkup: Peritonsillar Abscess Drainage

Arlen D. Meyers, MD, MBA


November 06, 2018

PTA is rare in infants and children younger than 12 years; the mean age for this disease is 20-30 years. Males and females are affected equally. Needle aspiration can be therapeutic in itself; in some studies, up to 85% of patients were effectively treated with outpatient needle aspiration and oral antibiotics. Aspiration can also be used to confirm the diagnosis and localize the PTA for incision and drainage.

After drainage, the aspirate or abscess contents can be sent to microbiology for gram stain and culture. Administer a single high dose of steroid, unless contraindicated. One option is a single dose of Dexamethasone IV (Decadron). Place the patient on oral antibiotics for 5-7 days. Selected recommended antibiotics include amoxicillin plus clavulanate (Augmentin) or clindamycin.

For more information on PTA and related procedures, read here.


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