Ludwig's angina: An update

H. Clifton Patterson, Jambs H. Kelly, Marshall Strome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Despite a reduction in preantibiotic mortality rates that exceeded 50%, Ludwig's angina remains a potentially lethal entity primarily because of rapidly progressive airway obstruction. Since the reports of several large series in the 1940's, there have been but sporadic case reports because of widespread use of antibiotics in orodental infection, improved dental care, as well as adherence to strict diagnostic criteria. Since this entity is now uncommon, unnecessary delay in diagnosis and management may occur and may result in serious complications. This presentation will consist of an historical review, discussion of pathogenesis followed by clinical presentation, bacteriology and treatment, as well as a detailed analysis of our most recent 20 cases. There were no complications and no deaths. The infection resolved with medical therapy in 11 patients, while 9 patients required surgical procedures. Penicillin, clindamycin or chloramphenicol were started initially in all cases. Four of these 9 patients developed a localized abscess, while on antibiotics, which required drainage. Tracheotomy or intubation was necessary in 7 patients. Early and aggressive use of appropriate antibiotics and protection of the airway are the mainstays of a successful treatment regimen. Judicious surgical intervention is indicated in those patients who develop localized abscesses while on antibiotics or are unresponsive to medical management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-378
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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