Introduction Acute neck swelling with pharyngeal signs often triggers emergency consultation. Treatment and diagnosis are usually multidisciplinary. Failing to find a possible etiology may lead to misdiagnosis. Case presentation A young man presented to the emergency room with a 4-day history of cough, neck swelling and sore throat. Laboratory testing showed a leukocyte count of 9200 without left shift. Mild elevated CRP with 1.7 was noted and computed tomography (CT) showed fluid accumulation in the retropharyngeal space and neck edema down to thyroid region. Antibiotic was prescribed and admitted to infection ward under the impression of deep neck infection. During hospitalization, needle aspiration was performed where water fluid was collected without pus. Investigations showed massive proteinuria, hypoalbuminemia and hypercholesterolemia. The early focal segmental glomerulosclerosis was found by renal biopsy. After prednisolone 60 mg daily and albumin supplement, the neck swelling, swallowing pain and general edema had completely resolved. Discussion The purpose of this case is to raise awareness of nephrotic syndrome as an unusual but possibly cause of retropharyngeal edema. We highlight the diagnostic features that will allow the physicians to make the correct diagnosis, avoid unnecessary incision and drainage, and commence effective treatment early in the disease course.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-356
Number of pages2
JournalEuropean Annals of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Diseases
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Retropharyngeal edema

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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