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Peritonsillar Abscess


A peritonsillar abscess, or PTA, is a collection of pus in the peritonsillar space. The peritonsillar space is the area between your tonsil and the back wall of your throat. It is near the opening of the tubes leading to your stomach and lungs.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.


  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Steroids decrease swelling.


You may need any of the following tests:

  • Blood tests may show infection or give information about your overall health.
  • Needle aspiration may show what is causing your abscess. A needle will be used to take the fluid out of the abscess. The fluid is sent to a lab for tests.
  • A CT scan or ultrasound may show the peritonsillar abscess. You may be given contrast liquid to help the abscess show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.


  • IV fluids may be given if you are unable to eat or drink anything.
  • Incision and drainage may be needed to drain your peritonsillar abscess. Your healthcare provider will make a cut in the abscess to allow the pus to drain. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.
  • Surgery may be needed if other treatments do not work or your PTA happens again. Surgery may be done to remove your abscess completely. This may include removal of your tonsils.


You may have trouble swallowing or be unable to eat and drink. Your airway may become blocked and cause breathing problems. The abscess may burst and the infection may spread to the rest of your body. Pus may need to be drained more than once. A peritonsillar abscess can become life threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.