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Three spontaneous occurrences of nasal septal abscess in patients with chronic asymptomatic HIV-the need for early intervention and reconstruction

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August 1, 2009
by Henry D. Sandel IV, MD and Steven P. Davison, MD, DDS


We identified 3 patients with chronic, asymptomatic HIV who presented between 2001 and 2005 with spontaneous nasal septal abscesses in the absence of previous trauma, nasal surgery, sinusitis, infection, or immunodeficiency. A MEDLINE search revealed no other cases of spontaneous isolated nasal septal abscesses. Each of our patients presented to the emergency department with complaints of fever and headaches; 2 of them also had nasal obstruction, nasal and lip swelling, and pain. Clinical examinations and imaging studies revealed isolated anterior nasal septal abscesses. In each case, incision and drainage was performed immediately, and antibiotics started. One patient had an early loss of septal cartilage and nasal support, which developed into a crooked and saddle-nose deformity requiring reconstruction 7 months later. Staphylococcus aureus was identified in all 3 cases. To the best of our knowledge, these are the only 3 cases of spontaneous isolated nasal septal abscess reported in the literature. We discuss the importance of early diagnosis and intervention, as well as reconstructive techniques.

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