Adult epiglottitis: a five-year retrospective chart review in a major urban centre.
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OBJECTIVE: There is an increasing awareness of unvaccinated adults presenting with epiglottitis to the emergency department. This study examines the clinical presentations and outcomes of diagnosed cases of adult epiglottitis presenting to all emergency departments in Hamilton, Ont., between 1999 and 2003. METHODS: We employed explicit protocols with defined variables, trained abstractors and standardized abstraction forms, and reviewed all diagnosed cases of adult epiglottitis during a 5-year period. Inter-rater agreement was measured using a kappa statistic. RESULTS: Inter-rater reliability for data abstraction was kappa = 1. From a total of 1 million emergency department admissions, 54 cases of epiglottitis were identified. The mean age was 49, and 69% of the patients were male. The 3 most frequently documented symptoms were sore throat (100%) odynophagia (94%) and inability to swallow secretions (63%). The 2 most frequently documented signs were swelling of the epiglottis/supraglottis (100%), and tachycardia (53%). Organisms were isolated from blood in 11% of the cases. There was a white blood cell count >20 x 10(9)/L in 4 of the cases (7.4%). From the 54 cases, 9 of the patients were intubated and all patients were safely discharged from hospital. CONCLUSION: Adults presenting with epiglottitis to the emergency department in Hamilton have good outcomes, with less airway management required than previously reported in children. Further study is needed to see if these conclusions are similar in other populations.
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