Relation between Peritonsillar Infection and Acute Tonsillitis: Myth or Reality? Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective. To investigate the relationship between tonsillar and peritonsillar infections. Study Design. Retrospective population-based study and a ret- rospective case series review. Settings. Tertiary academic medical facility. Subjects and Methods. All individuals hospitalized with peri- tonsillar abscess (PTA) or peritonsillar cellulitis (PTC) dur- ing 2004-2008 were reviewed. Patient age, gender, diagnosis of PTA or PTC, recurrence, and date of presentation were recorded. In addition, a database of patients diagnosed in the community with acute tonsillitis (AT) was reviewed for the same time period. The w eekly number of patients with AT was recorded, and a comparison between incidence of tonsil- lar infections and peritonsillar infection was performed. Results. A total of 685 patients were hospitalized with either PTA (467) or PTC (218). Incidence of both upper respiratory infections and AT peaked in January and February of every year with a nadir in August. In contrast, PTA and PTC showed a consistent rate of infection throughout the year. Likewise, assessment based on weekly intervals showed that peaks of PTA and PTC did not follow those of acute tonsillitis with a 1 to 2 weekly lag as would be expected if peritonsillar infection is a complication of AT. Rather, an association between peri- tonsillar infection and tonsillitis was found within the same week (P = .04). Conclusion. Higher rates of occurrence of PTA or PTC follow- ing AT outbreaks were not found. These results lend further support to the theory that peritonsillar infection is associated not only with complications of AT but may occur from infec- tion of Weber glands or other unknown causes.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011