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Glossal abscess as a complication of tongue-base suspension surgery

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December 15, 2011
by Bobby A. Tajudeen, MD, Biana G. Lanson, MD, and Pamela C. Roehm, MD, PhD


Approximately 60 cases of tongue abscess have been reported in the English-language literature over the past 30 years. We report what we believe is the first case of a glossal abscess that arose as a complication of tongue-base suspension surgery. The patient was a 31-year-old man who presented with a several-day history of odynophagia, tongue swelling, voice changes, and increased snoring. Two years earlier, he had undergone a tongue-base suspension procedure for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. Computed tomography (CT) revealed a tongue abscess. During peroral incision and drainage, a knotted 0 Prolene suture was discovered within the abscess cavity. The suture was removed, the area was thoroughly irrigated, the drain was placed in the abscess cavity, and the incision was loosely closed. On postoperative day 5, repeat CT revealed resolution of the abscess, and the patient was discharged on oral antibiotics. Although glossal abscess is very rare, physicians should consider it in the differential diagnosis of any patient who presents with lingual swelling following tongue-base suspension surgery.

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