Cervical necrotizing fasciitis is a devastating polymicrobial soft tissue infection characterized by gas formation and extensive necrosis of subcutaneous fat and fascia with extension to skin and muscle. Involvement of the head and neck is rare and is typically dental in origin. Despite broad-spectrum antibiotics, mortality rates for this disease remain high. We report a successfully treated case of necrotizing fasciitis arising from a peritonsillar abscess. Review of the literature reveals only 6 other cases, with 3 successful outcomes. Early diagnosis, broad-spectrum antibiotics, and aggressive surgical debridement are the cornerstones of therapy. The pathophysiology is typically a mixed aerobic and anaerobic infection. Supportive treatment options such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy and high-calorie supplemental nutrition may be of benefit. A comprehensive literature review of craniocervical necrotizing fasciitis is presented. Factors associated with poor outcomes include diabetes mellitus, mediastinitis, cardiovascular disease, and peritonsillar abscess.

Greinwald, Wilson, Haggerty, , , , , , (1995). Peritonsillar abscess: an unlikely cause of necrotizing fasciitis. The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology, 1995 Feb;104(2):133-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7857015