Photographs and Information about Taiwan's Culture, Nature and People by Rich Matheson

Vaji and his Retropharyngeal Abscess

Here is my son, Vaji, in Chengkung University Hospital. He was feverish with a sore throat for a very long time so our family doctor sent us to the emergency ward. They took some blood and did some scans; his white blood cells were through the roof and all his lymph nodes were swollen (kneck, groin and even stomach), so we knew something was wrong. He was admitted and observed for a couple of days where he had a barrage of tests before he was finally diagnosed with a retropharyngeal abscess. After vigorous antibiotics he is now doing fine. He was having increasingly difficult time breathing so was taken for a CT scan. Apparently this is very hard to diagnose because it is a deep tissue infection and a CT scan is the definitive test. It is also very dangerous because of where it is; “the retropharyngeal space is located immediately posterior to the pharynx (nasopharynx, oropharynx, hypopharynx), larynx, and trachea. The visceral (buccopharyngeal) fascia, which surrounds the pharynx, trachea, esophagus, and thyroid, forms the anterior border of the retropharyngeal space. Bounded posteriorly by the alar fascia, the retropharyngeal space is bounded laterally by the carotid sheaths and parapharyngeal spaces. It extends superiorly to the base of the skull and inferiorly to the mediastinum at the level of the tracheal bifurcation.” Basically there is danger of suffocation and the infection has some great fast-tracks to vital areas. Thank god for antiobiotics! And Taiwan’s modern and highly accessible hospital facilities.Before the diagnosis my wife and I had nightmares worrying about what could be wrong with our child, and, as terrifying as a retropharyngeal abscess is, we are thankful it is not something chronic or irreversible. These are the burdens of parenthood. And grandparents, my mother was just as worried as we were, I guess it never stops!The only smile I managed to get out of Vaji, thanks to his brother. I, of course, have to photograph everything!

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4 responses

  1. Very glad Vaji is doing better. I can imagine what you were going through, and I don’t think it was the least bit enjoyable.

    August 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm

  2. Mariko Langdale

    I am so sorry to hear about your son’s illness, but I’m glad he’s recovering well. I had a peek through your wonderful photos – you have a great eye for composition! Take care.

    August 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm

  3. Thanks Chuck, the last few days actually were enjoyable. Vaji was pretty much ok and we had nothing to do but sit, read and relax. No TV, no computer.
    He was released his afternoon.

    Hi Mariko, thanks for the condolences and compliment. I had a look through your growing corpus, you have a very broad range of interesting articles!

    August 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm

  4. Glad to see he’s doing fine. I had to google the name of the condition and saw that you probably spent a lot of stress-filled time googling it, too. I’m happy to see things are OK.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm

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