Critical care nurses be aware: Lemierre's syndrome is on the rise.
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Lemierre's syndrome (LS) typically occurs in previously healthy young adolescents and young adults who become acutely ill following an attack of pharyngotonsillitis. Also known as post anginal sepsis, those afflicted develop pyrexia, rigours and multiple metastatic abscesses that lead to septic thrombophlebitis of the internal jugular vein. In the pre-antibiotic era this particularly virulent syndrome had a mortality rate in excess of 90%, but since the introduction of antibiotics and the widespread treatment of throat infections, it has became almost unknown. However, due to a number of factors, including a reduction in the use of antibiotics for the treatment of sore throats, misdiagnosis and/or improvements in microbiology diagnostic techniques, several reports have indicated a resurgence of the condition. This has major ramifications for critical care nurses as LS is still associated with significant morbidity and mortality. This paper discusses the aetiology, pathophysiology, bacteriology, diagnosis and management aspects of this syndrome. A case study of a young woman is presented to illustrate the complexity of the condition, and highlight how early diagnosis and prompt initiation of appropriate intravenous antibiotic therapy ensured a favourable clinical outcome.
Australian Critical Care
© 2003 Cambridge University Press : Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher : This journal is available online - use hypertext links.