Document Type

Case Report


Bacterial Infections and Mycoses | Higher Education | Medicine and Health Sciences | Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases


Introduction: Extrapulmonary mycobacterial infection can lead to vertebral spondylitis and osteomyelitis (Pott’s disease). Retropharyngeal abscess with concurrent spinal osteomyelitis is a rare presentation of tuberculosis in the US. Chart review on a patient was completed, and the relevant published literature was reviewed.

Case Presentation: A previously healthy 34-year-old male originally from Sudan presented to an outside hospital with a 2-month history of neck pain, sore throat, odynophagia, fevers, and chills. MRI showed a retropharyngeal abscess and suspected cervical spine osteomyelitis. Acid-fast bacillus (AFB) smear was positive from a neck drain specimen, but sputum was negative. Chest imaging did not show findings consistent with pulmonary tuberculosis. He was treated with rifampin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol (RIPE) along with moxifloxacin and linezolid due to concern for possible multidrug resistant tuberculosis and transferred to our center for further care. Culture isolated Mycobacterium tuberculosis. CT neck showed vertebral tuberculous osteomyelitis (Pott’s disease) of C1-C3 with a multiloculated retropharyngeal and prevertebral abscess (Figure 1). The patient was taken to the OR for posterior spinal fusion from occiput to C4 and transoral incision and drainage of the abscess. The post-operative course was uneventful, and moxifloxacin and linezolid were discontinued when Xpert MTB/RIF test revealed rifampin susceptibility. At follow-up the patient’s symptoms had resolved. Patient consent was obtained to utilize this case for educational purposes.

Conclusions: This report presents the multidisciplinary treatment of this patient requiring infection control measures and antibiotic therapy by infectious disease, posterior spine fusion by orthopedic surgery, and retropharyngeal abscess drainage by otolaryngology.




Pott's disease, Tuberculosis, Retropharyngeal abscess

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Figure 1 CT images.png (3367 kB)
Figure 1. CT soft tissue neck with contrast in soft tissue window. Sagittal (A) and axial (B) images show retropharyngeal abscess (arrow) and cervical osteolytic destruction (arrowhead).

Figure 2 Ziehl Neelsen.png (4151 kB)
Figure 2. Ziehl-Neelsen stain of neck fluid specimen was positive for acid fast bacilli with cording typical for tuberculosis.

Media release .pdf (1009 kB)
Patient informed consent for publication



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