Lingual abscess: diagnosis and treatment




Lingual abscesses are very rare, and as a result, the individual surgeon usually lacks experience in the diagnosis and therapy of this entity. We present four cases of abscesses of the tongue diagnosed and treated during the past 2 years.


The medical records, films, and charts of four patients with lingual abscess were retrospectively reviewed. The clinical presentation, radiographic features, treatment, and outcome of the cases were examined.


Diagnosis was obtained by clinical examination and CT. In all cases, we avoided incision and drainage and preferred draining the abscess and aspirating pus with a large-bore needle through the inferior surface of the tongue. All patients responded remarkably well and did not have any recurrence.


Lingual abscesses are rare conditions. In contrast to the approach in cases of most deep neck space infections, a more conservative therapeutic approach by needle-aspiration is effective and has the advantages of not exacerbating the edema of the tongue and of avoiding airway compromise. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck26: 550–554, 2004