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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Necrotizing fasciitis-a newly recognized complication of laryngectomy

Necrotizing fasciitis (NF) was recently recognized as a new post surgical complication of laryngectomy. NF is an unusual, life threatening, rapidly advancing serious infection characterized by widespread fascial and subcutaneous tissue necrosis and gangrene of the skin. It most commonly affects the extremities, abdominal wall and perineum, whereas cervical NF is rare. NF of the head and neck is often caused by both aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms found in the upper aerodigestive tract. Usually, cervical NF originates from odontogenic, tonsillar and pharyngeal infection, and it is very rarely a complication of surgical procedure. Without immediate surgical treatment, cervical NF leads to mediastinitis and fatal sepsis. There was only one case of cervical NF after total laryngectomy described in the literature. Hadzibegovic and colleagues recently reported two additional cases of cervical NF after total laryngectomy, selective neck dissection and primary vocal prosthesis insertion. In both cases, the infection spread to thoracic region and in one of the patients NF was associated with Lemierre's syndrome ( thrombosis of the internal jugular vein). In both patients, vocal prosthesis was inserted during the infection and did not influence the healing process.

CT scan of the neck demonstrates gas in the soft tissue of the left side of the neck associated with necrotizing fasciitis.