Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Abscess Retropharyngeal Anatomy

To better understand retropharyngeal abscess, it helps to understand the anatomy of the throat.

The back of throat is also referred to as the pharynx. More specifically, the pharynx is the back, upper part of the throat behind the tongue. It starts at the base of the tongue and ends at the larynx.

Anatomy examples:

  • Normal pharynx in an adult
  • Normal pharynx in a child
  • Normal tongue

The tonsils are collections of lymphoid tissue in the back of the throat. They are located on both sides of the throat, near the base of the tongue. The tonsils generally shrink over time. At puberty, the tonsils are normally about the size of an almond.

Anatomy examples:
  • Normal anatomy of the pharynx
  • Normal tonsils in a child

Last Updated: Jan 4, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Abscess Retropharyngeal References
  1. Al-Sabah B, Bin Salleen H, Hagr A, Choi-Rosen J, Manoukian JJ, Tewfik TL. Retropharyngeal abscess in children: 10-year study. J Otolaryngol. 2004 Dec;33(6):352-5. [15971649]
  2. Craig FW, Schunk JE. Retropharyngeal abscess in children: clinical presentation, utility of imaging, and current management. Pediatrics. 2003 Jun;111(6 Pt 1):1394-8. [12777558]
  3. Philpott CM, Selvadurai D, Banerjee AR. Paediatric retropharyngeal abscess. J Laryngol Otol. 2004 Dec;118(12):919-26. [15667676]
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