Potential role of biofilms in deep cervical abscess

Jason G. May, Priyanka Shah, Livjot Sachdeva, Mark Micale, Gregory J. Kruper, Anthony Sheyn, James M. Coticchia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objectives: Deep neck abscesses are complex head & neck problems that can lead to significant complications including life threatening infections. It is understood that the pathology of these infections is primarily polymicrobial. Although broad spectrum antibiotics can be effective for small abscesses, larger abscesses can be recalcitrant and difficult to treat with antibiotics. It has been demonstrated for several infectious diseases, including some of head & neck, that biofilm phenotypes present a unique model for recurrence and chronicity of infectious diseases. It is suspected that biofilm phenotypes could play a crucial role in the recalcitrance of large deep neck abscesses. This study presents initial evidence indicating the presence of polymicrobial biofilms in deep neck space infections. Methods: Fourteen samples obtained via biopsy of abscess walls from deep neck spaces of patients undergoing surgical drainage. Eight patients were male and 6 were female. All but one patient were pediatric with ages ranging from 18 months to 32 years. All samples were processed and analyzed with scanning electron microscopy. Results: Electron micrographs of 12 out of 14 specimens showed discrete biofilm architecture with individual bacteria, both rods and cocci, embedded within the matrix. This was starkly different from tissue surfaces devoid of biofilms. Conclusions: This initial evidence suggests that biofilm phenotypes could play a role in the pathogenesis and recalcitrance of deep neck infections, particularly in larger abscesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-13
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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