Despite the fact that a wide variety of head and neck methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections have been described, only four cases of MRSA laryngitis are reported in the literature. Our clinical experience suggests that this diagnosis is more common and can be more subtle that previously reported. The objective of this study was to identify and describe the clinical presentation, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of MRSA and methicillin-sensitive S aureus (MSSA) laryngitis, highlighting the in-office workup of these patients.
Retrospective case series.
All patients with a culture-proven diagnosis of S aureus laryngitis treated within the Emory Voice Center, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Emory University between 2007 and 2011. Demographic, diagnostic, and treatment data were retrospectively collected from the patients' hospital records.
Three patients with culture-proven MRSA laryngitis were identified. Three further cases of MSSA were also identified. Patients ranged in age from 34 to 74 years. All three patients with MRSA were diabetics. All six patients in the study were current or past users of cigarettes. The most common presenting symptoms were vocal roughness, vocal fatigue, and decreased vocal endurance. There were no symptoms of airway or swallowing compromise. The duration of symptoms at the time of initial assessment ranged from 3 months to 5 years, and most patients had undergone numerous previous treatments. Common signs on laryngeal examination included thickened vocal fold epithelium, whitish debris or the appearance of leukoplakia, edema, and crusting. Signs and symptoms were similar in MRSA and MSSA patients. The diagnosis was made in all patients via awake in-office culture of the larynx. All patients were treated with a prolonged course of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (2–4 weeks). Although repeated courses of treatment were required, most patients had an excellent response to treatment.
This is the largest, single, case series of patients with MRSA laryngitis. Our study findings suggest that the diagnosis may be more common than previously recognized, and that the presenting signs and symptoms may be subtle and similar to MSSA. Diagnosis can be made via in-office laryngeal culture. Clinicians must have a high index of suspicion for this diagnosis. Laryngoscope, 2012