Describe clinical features, treatment, and outcomes in dogs with deep neck infections.
19 dogs undergoing surgical treatment of deep neck infections from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2020.
Retrospective record review was conducted, with data collected including clinical signs; neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR); diagnostic imaging, surgical, and histopathologic findings; and follow-up. Spearman correlation and Wilcoxon rank sum were used to compare variables to NLR.
All dogs had cervical swelling, and 9 were febrile. On CT, a distinct mass or abscess (7/13) or abscessed lymph node (4/13) was common, with contrast enhancement (10/13), fluid tracking (8/13), and displacement of the trachea, pharynx, or larynx (6/13) also frequently seen. Foreign material was suspected on CT for 4 dogs and was identified at surgery or histopathology for 4 dogs, only 1 of which was suspected on CT. Histopathology most commonly revealed pyogranulomatous inflammation (14/15). Increasing NLR was moderately correlated to a decreased duration of clinical signs before presentation (ρ = –0.548; P = .035) and an increased length of hospitalization (ρ = 0.645; P = .009). Bacterial culture was submitted for all dogs, and polymicrobial infections were common (8/19). Broad-spectrum empirical antimicrobials were commonly prescribed. Change in antimicrobial treatment based on culture was uncommon (3/19). All dogs survived to hospital discharge; 18 dogs with long-term follow-up had complete resolution of clinical signs.
CT was useful to plan for surgery, and surgical treatment resulted in resolution of clinical signs in all dogs with long-term follow-up available. Empirical antimicrobial treatment, such as amoxicillin–clavulanic acid or ampicillin-sulbactam, should be considered.