Peritonsillar abscess: Repeated needle aspiration versus incision and drainage

Michael Wolf, Iris Even-Chen, Jona Kronenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study evaluates the management of peritonsillar abscess (PTA) by comparing needle aspiration versus incision and drainage of the abscess. Twenty-four of 86 patients treated by needle aspiration underwent a single aspiration, and 38 had 2, 19 had 3, and 5 had 4 aspirations before the abscess resolved. A significant amount of pus, up to 8, 5, and 3 mL, respectively, was detected in the subsequent aspirations. Recurrent PTA was noted in 20 patients (23.26%). In 9 of these patients (10.47%) the recurrent episode occurred immediately (in less than 1 month) and was considered residual disease. Seventy-four patients were treated by incision and drainage, and none had an immediate recurrence. Only 3 (4.05%) patients developed a late recurrent episode. The difference in the recurrence rate between the two groups is statistically significant. A history of recurrent tonsillitis prior to abscess formation did not show a significant influence on the recurrence rate. A high incidence of streptococcal infections was noted in both groups, with anaerobes detected in only 15% of samples. There was a good response to penicillin-resistant organisms. Although needle aspiration is a tempting modality for treating PTA in community clinics, one should be aware of the risks of a higher incidence of residual and recurrent disease in comparison to incision and drainage, as well as the need for repeated aspirations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-557
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1994


  • incision and drainage
  • needle aspiration
  • peritonsillar abscess
  • recurrence


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