Epiglottitis is most commonly caused by bacterial infection resulting in inflammation and edema of the epiglottis and neighboring supraglottic structures. Acute infection was once found predominantly in children ages 2 to 6 years old, but with the introduction of the Haemophilus influenzae B (HiB) vaccine the incidence of cases in adults is increasing. Typical clinical presentation of epiglottitis includes fever and sore throat. Evidence of impending airway obstruction may be demonstrated by muffled voice, drooling, tripod position, and stridor. Radiographs can be helpful in diagnosing epiglottitis; however, they should not supersede or postpone securing the airway. An airway specialist such as an otolaryngologist, anesthesiologist, or intensivist should ideally evaluate the patient immediately to give ample time for preparing to secure the airway if necessary. All patients with epiglottitis should be admitted to the intensive care unit for close monitoring.

You do not currently have access to this content.