Research Article| Volume 50, ISSUE 7, P626-630, October 2012

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Acute cervico-facial infection in Scotland 2010: patterns of presentation, patient demographics and recording of systemic involvement

Published:December 29, 2011DOI:


      Acute bacterial cervicofacial infection is a common problem that is most often secondary to dental infection. Most cases present as localised abscesses but some may be associated with serious morbidity including scarring, embarrassment of the airway, SIRS (systemic inflammatory response syndrome), and sepsis syndrome. Fourteen oral surgery or maxillofacial surgery units in Scotland took part in a clinical audit of acute infection during two four-week cycles (August and November) in 2010. Information regarding the patients, signs and symptoms, and management was recorded. Training material was distributed between cycles with information on SIRS, sepsis, and the prescription of antibiotics. Overall, 140 patients presented with acute infection. There was an equal sex distribution and ages ranged from 5 to 87 years. There was an association with deprivation and 36% of patients were from the lowest socioeconomic quintile. Most infections were dental (n = 120, 86%), and patients presented with pain and swelling (n = 120, 86% and n = 134, 96%, respectively) Twenty-three patients (16%) met the criteria for SIRS. A further 23 (16%) had at least one positive SIRS marker with incomplete recording of the remaining markers. Twenty-six patients (19%) had no recorded SIRS markers. Cervicofacial infection can be associated with serious morbidity and mortality, which may be better managed if the systemic signs and symptoms of sepsis are recognised and recorded at presentation. This study showed that the recording of signs of sepsis was variable even with training. Further training of junior staff to recognise severe acute bacterial infection may improve management.


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