Spontaneous tonsillar hemorrhage.
Spontaneous tonsillar hemorrhage (STH) of non-iatrogenic causes occurs most frequently from infection. Infection can lead to erosion into a major vessel, such as the carotid artery or a smaller peripheral tonsil vessel. Whereas fatal erosion into a major vessel from a deep neck abscess was relatively common in the past, it is rare since the advent of antibiotics. Spontaneous tonsillar hemorrhage, when it does occur, appears to occur most commonly in a peripheral tonsil vessel from bacterial tonsillitis. Medical records of 860 patients with conditions considered to be susceptible to STH were reviewed. Ten cases of STH were identified. All were from peripheral tonsil vessel hemorrhage; none was secondary to major vessel erosion. Bacterial tonsillitis was the most common cause of STH and occurred in 8 of 10 cases. This condition accounted for an incidence of STH in tonsillitis of 1.1%. A history of chronic tonsillitis appeared to predispose a patient to STH. Other causes of STH were infectious mononucleosis and neoplasm. Seven of the ten peripheral STHs presented with bleeding from an obvious venous source. The other three patients had significant hemorrhages which led to arteriography. Arteriograms are indicated in patients with clinical features suggesting possible major vessel erosion or in those patients where significant bleeding is not from an obvious peripheral source. A peripheral STH can be successfully managed with local intervention and tonsillectomy.
Griffies, WS; Wotowic, PW; Wildes, TO
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