Predictors of a drainable suppurative adenitis among children presenting with cervical adenopathy



      We sought to identify predictors for a drainable suppurative adenitis [DSA] among patients presenting with acute cervical lymphadenitis.


      A retrospective cross sectional study of all patients admitted to an urban pediatric tertiary care emergency department over a 15 year period. Otherwise healthy patients who underwent imaging for an evaluation of cervical lymphadenitis were included. Cases were identified using a text-search module followed by manual review. We excluded immunocompromised patients and those with lymphadenopathy felt to be not directly infected (i.e. reactive) or that was not acute (symptom duration >28 days). Data collected included: age, gender, duration of symptoms, highest recorded temperature, physical exam findings, laboratory and imaging results, and surgical findings. A DSA was defined as >1.5 cm in diameter on imaging. We performed binary logistic regression to determine independent clinical predictors of a DSA.


      Three hundred sixty-one patients met inclusion criteria. Three hundred six patients (85%) had a CT scan, 55 (15%) had an ultrasound and 33 (9%) had both. DSA was identified in 71 (20%) patients. Clinical features independently associated with a DSA included absence of clinical pharyngitis, WBC >15,000/mm3, age ≤3 years, anterior cervical chain location, largest palpable diameter on exam >3 cm and prior antibiotic treatment of >24 h. The presence of fever, skin erythema, or fluctuance on examination, was not found to be predictive of DSA.


      We identified independent predictors of DSA among children presenting with cervical adenitis. Risk can be stratified into risk groups based on these clinical features.


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