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Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body's defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation of the pharynx Pharynx The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy or pharyngeal tonsils, and therefore is also called pharyngitis Pharyngitis Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the back of the throat (pharynx). Pharyngitis is usually caused by an upper respiratory tract infection, which is viral in most cases. It typically results in a sore throat and fever. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, headache, and hoarseness. Pharyngitis. An infectious Infectious Febrile Infant etiology in the setting of tonsillitis is referred to as infectious Infectious Febrile Infant pharyngitis Pharyngitis Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the back of the throat (pharynx). Pharyngitis is usually caused by an upper respiratory tract infection, which is viral in most cases. It typically results in a sore throat and fever. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, headache, and hoarseness. Pharyngitis, which is caused by viruses Viruses Minute infectious agents whose genomes are composed of DNA or RNA, but not both. They are characterized by a lack of independent metabolism and the inability to replicate outside living host cells. Virology (most common), bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology, or fungi Fungi A kingdom of eukaryotic, heterotrophic organisms that live parasitically as saprobes, including mushrooms; yeasts; smuts, molds, etc. They reproduce either sexually or asexually, and have life cycles that range from simple to complex. Filamentous fungi, commonly known as molds, refer to those that grow as multicellular colonies. Mycology. Among the bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology, group A hemolytic Streptococcus is the most frequent etiology. Diagnosis is based on history, risk factors, and clinical findings, with tests done, if indicated, by initial evaluation. Testing for group A Streptococcus (GAS) infection in the setting of tonsillitis is essential, as this infection can lead to rheumatic fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever and glomerulonephritis in children and adolescents. Antibiotic treatment is recommended in a confirmed GAS infection for this population. For other etiologies, management depends on the causative organism and the treatment available.

Last updated: 12 Jan, 2021

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Epidemiology and Etiology

Epidemiology

  • Viral tonsillitis: children < 5 years and young adults
  • Streptococcal tonsillitis
    • Children aged 5–15 years (not seen in children < 3 years of age)
    • In adults: often before the age of 40 years
    • More frequent in winter Winter Pityriasis Rosea and spring

Etiology

  • Viral (most common): 
    • Epstein-Barr virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology ( EBV EBV Epstein-barr virus (EBV) is a linear, double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the herpesviridae family. This highly prevalent virus is mostly transmitted through contact with oropharyngeal secretions from an infected individual. The virus can infect epithelial cells and B lymphocytes, where it can undergo lytic replication or latency. Epstein-Barr Virus): causes 90% of infectious Infectious Febrile Infant mononucleosis Mononucleosis Infectious mononucleosis (IM), also known as “the kissing disease,” is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Its common name is derived from its main method of transmission: the spread of infected saliva via kissing. Clinical manifestations of IM include fever, tonsillar pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy. Mononucleosis
    • Adenovirus Adenovirus Adenovirus (member of the family Adenoviridae) is a nonenveloped, double-stranded DNA virus. Adenovirus is transmitted in a variety of ways, and it can have various presentations based on the site of entry. Presentation can include febrile pharyngitis, conjunctivitis, acute respiratory disease, atypical pneumonia, and gastroenteritis. Adenovirus
    • Coxsackie
    • Cytomegalovirus Cytomegalovirus CMV is a ubiquitous double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the Herpesviridae family. CMV infections can be transmitted in bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, urine, semen, and breast milk. The initial infection is usually asymptomatic in the immunocompetent host, or it can present with symptoms of mononucleosis. Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
    • Influenza A Influenza A Antivirals for Influenza and B
    • Parainfluenza viruses Viruses Minute infectious agents whose genomes are composed of DNA or RNA, but not both. They are characterized by a lack of independent metabolism and the inability to replicate outside living host cells. Virology
    • Respiratory syncytial virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology
    • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus A viral disorder characterized by high fever, dry cough, shortness of breath (dyspnea) or breathing difficulties, and atypical pneumonia. A virus in the genus Coronavirus is the suspected agent. Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
    • Human immunodeficiency virus Human Immunodeficiency Virus Anti-HIV Drugs ( HIV HIV Anti-HIV Drugs)
  • Bacterial:
    • Group A Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus (GAS): most common bacterial cause
    • Mycoplasma Mycoplasma Mycoplasma is a species of pleomorphic bacteria that lack a cell wall, which makes them difficult to target with conventional antibiotics and causes them to not gram stain well. Mycoplasma bacteria commonly target the respiratory and urogenital epithelium. Mycoplasma pneumoniae (M. pneumoniae), the causative agent of atypical or “walking” pneumonia. Mycoplasma pneumonia Pneumonia Pneumonia or pulmonary inflammation is an acute or chronic inflammation of lung tissue. Causes include infection with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In more rare cases, pneumonia can also be caused through toxic triggers through inhalation of toxic substances, immunological processes, or in the course of radiotherapy. Pneumonia
    • Corynebacterium Corynebacterium Corynebacteria are gram-positive, club-shaped bacilli. Corynebacteria are commonly isolated on tellurite or Loeffler’s media and have characteristic metachromatic granules. The major pathogenic species is Corynebacterium diphtheriae, which causes a severe respiratory infection called diphtheria. Corynebacterium diphtheria Diphtheria Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae that most often results in respiratory disease with membranous inflammation of the pharynx, sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and weakness. The hallmark sign is a sheet of thick, gray material covering the back of the throat. Diphtheria
    • Neisseria Neisseria Neisseria is a genus of bacteria commonly present on mucosal surfaces. Several species exist, but only 2 are pathogenic to humans: N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis. Neisseria species are non-motile, gram-negative diplococci most commonly isolated on modified Thayer-Martin (MTM) agar. Neisseria gonorrhoeae
    • Fusobacterium Fusobacterium A genus of gram-negative, anaerobic, rod-shaped bacteria found in cavities of humans and other animals. No endospores are formed. Some species are pathogenic and occur in various purulent or gangrenous infections. Dog and Cat Bites 
  • Fungal: Candida Candida Candida is a genus of dimorphic, opportunistic fungi. Candida albicans is part of the normal human flora and is the most common cause of candidiasis. The clinical presentation varies and can include localized mucocutaneous infections (e.g., oropharyngeal, esophageal, intertriginous, and vulvovaginal candidiasis) and invasive disease (e.g., candidemia, intraabdominal abscess, pericarditis, and meningitis). Candida/Candidiasis (seen in denture wearers, asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship using corticosteroid inhalers, immunocompromised immunocompromised A human or animal whose immunologic mechanism is deficient because of an immunodeficiency disorder or other disease or as the result of the administration of immunosuppressive drugs or radiation. Gastroenteritis patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship)

Clinical Presentation

Viral infection

  • Mild tonsillar exudates
  • Conjunctivitis Conjunctivitis Conjunctivitis is a common inflammation of the bulbar and/or palpebral conjunctiva. It can be classified into infectious (mostly viral) and noninfectious conjunctivitis, which includes allergic causes. Patients commonly present with red eyes, increased tearing, burning, foreign body sensation, and photophobia. Conjunctivitis
  • Cough (upper respiratory tract infection)
  • Rhinorrhea Rhinorrhea Excess nasal drainage. Respiratory Syncytial Virus
  • Infectious Infectious Febrile Infant mononucleosis Mononucleosis Infectious mononucleosis (IM), also known as “the kissing disease,” is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Its common name is derived from its main method of transmission: the spread of infected saliva via kissing. Clinical manifestations of IM include fever, tonsillar pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy. Mononucleosis: fatigue Fatigue The state of weariness following a period of exertion, mental or physical, characterized by a decreased capacity for work and reduced efficiency to respond to stimuli. Fibromyalgia, palpable spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy/ splenomegaly Splenomegaly Splenomegaly is pathologic enlargement of the spleen that is attributable to numerous causes, including infections, hemoglobinopathies, infiltrative processes, and outflow obstruction of the portal vein. Splenomegaly, or axillary adenopathy

Bacterial infection

  • GAS tonsillitis
    • Febrile (> 38°C (100.4°F))
    • Sore throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy (may be severe), malaise Malaise Tick-borne Encephalitis Virus
    • Pharyngotonsillar erythema Erythema Redness of the skin produced by congestion of the capillaries. This condition may result from a variety of disease processes. Chalazion and exudate Exudate Exudates are fluids, cells, or other cellular substances that are slowly discharged from blood vessels usually from inflamed tissues. Pleural Effusion
    • Tender and swollen anterior cervical adenopathy
    • Palatal petechiae Petechiae Primary Skin Lesions
    • Strawberry tongue Strawberry tongue Kawasaki Disease
    • Scarlatiniform rash Rash Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • C. diphtheria Diphtheria Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae that most often results in respiratory disease with membranous inflammation of the pharynx, sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and weakness. The hallmark sign is a sheet of thick, gray material covering the back of the throat. Diphtheria tonsillitis: 
    • Presents with sore throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy and fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever 
    • Commonly seen in unvaccinated individuals 
    • Patient with a gray tonsillar pseudomembrane Pseudomembrane Candida/Candidiasis (hallmark of the disease)
  • N. gonorrhea Gonorrhea Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the gram-negative bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae). Gonorrhea may be asymptomatic but commonly manifests as cervicitis or urethritis with less common presentations such as proctitis, conjunctivitis, or pharyngitis. Gonorrhea tonsillitis
    • Sore throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy and fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever seen in sexually active people
    • Along with a sore throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy, it is common to have symptoms related to genital tract infection.

Fungal infection

  • Thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis Candidiasis Candida is a genus of dimorphic, opportunistic fungi. Candida albicans is part of the normal human flora and is the most common cause of candidiasis. The clinical presentation varies and can include localized mucocutaneous infections (e.g., oropharyngeal, esophageal, intertriginous, and vulvovaginal candidiasis) and invasive disease (e.g., candidemia, intraabdominal abscess, pericarditis, and meningitis). Candida/Candidiasis): white plaques in the oropharynx Oropharynx The middle portion of the pharynx that lies posterior to the mouth, inferior to the soft palate, and superior to the base of the tongue and epiglottis. It has a digestive function as food passes from the mouth into the oropharynx before entering esophagus. Pharynx: Anatomy
  • Many patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship are asymptomatic; some with cottony feeling in the mouth and oral pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways when eating
Pseudomembranous candidiasis

Pseudomembranous candidiasis Candidiasis Candida is a genus of dimorphic, opportunistic fungi. Candida albicans is part of the normal human flora and is the most common cause of candidiasis. The clinical presentation varies and can include localized mucocutaneous infections (e.g., oropharyngeal, esophageal, intertriginous, and vulvovaginal candidiasis) and invasive disease (e.g., candidemia, intraabdominal abscess, pericarditis, and meningitis). Candida/Candidiasis patient with oropharyngeal candidiasis Candidiasis Candida is a genus of dimorphic, opportunistic fungi. Candida albicans is part of the normal human flora and is the most common cause of candidiasis. The clinical presentation varies and can include localized mucocutaneous infections (e.g., oropharyngeal, esophageal, intertriginous, and vulvovaginal candidiasis) and invasive disease (e.g., candidemia, intraabdominal abscess, pericarditis, and meningitis). Candida/Candidiasis infection
In these images, the infection is shown to affect Affect The feeling-tone accompaniment of an idea or mental representation. It is the most direct psychic derivative of instinct and the psychic representative of the various bodily changes by means of which instincts manifest themselves. Psychiatric Assessment the palate Palate The palate is the structure that forms the roof of the mouth and floor of the nasal cavity. This structure is divided into soft and hard palates. Palate: Anatomy.

Image: “PMC2903493_1742-6405-7-19-2” by Taiwo OO, Hassan Z. License: CC BY 2.0

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is clinical, as it is based on history and examination findings.

Initial assessment

  • Age of the patient
  • Accompanying symptoms: Common viral illnesses have other symptoms, such as cough, conjunctivitis Conjunctivitis Conjunctivitis is a common inflammation of the bulbar and/or palpebral conjunctiva. It can be classified into infectious (mostly viral) and noninfectious conjunctivitis, which includes allergic causes. Patients commonly present with red eyes, increased tearing, burning, foreign body sensation, and photophobia. Conjunctivitis, and rhinorrhea Rhinorrhea Excess nasal drainage. Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
  • Risk factors (school exposure Exposure ABCDE Assessment, immunocompromised immunocompromised A human or animal whose immunologic mechanism is deficient because of an immunodeficiency disorder or other disease or as the result of the administration of immunosuppressive drugs or radiation. Gastroenteritis state, vaccination Vaccination Vaccination is the administration of a substance to induce the immune system to develop protection against a disease. Unlike passive immunization, which involves the administration of pre-performed antibodies, active immunization constitutes the administration of a vaccine to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies. Vaccination status, sexual and illicit drug history, season)

Tests

Group A Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus infection:

  • Tests for GAS:
    • Rapid streptococcal antigen Antigen Substances that are recognized by the immune system and induce an immune reaction. Vaccination test or rapid antigen detection Antigen detection Respiratory Syncytial Virus test (RADT): preferred for initial testing
    • Throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy culture
    • Molecular assays
  • Use of Centor criteria in GAS tonsillitis:
    • 4 findings given 1 point each
    • Modified to include patient age
    • The likelihood of GAS rises as the total points increase.
    • The features of Centor criteria:
      • Absence of Cough
      • Exudate
      • Cervical Nodes
      • Temperature ( fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever)
      • Young OR old modifier: age 3–14 years: + 1, age 15–44 years: 0, age ≥ 45 years: – 1
    • Scoring: 
      • < 2 unlikely GAS tonsillitis
      •  2–3: test for GAS
      • > 3: test for GAS; in rare cases, empiric treatment if testing is unavailable
  • Risk assessment Risk assessment The qualitative or quantitative estimation of the likelihood of adverse effects that may result from exposure to specified health hazards or from the absence of beneficial influences. Preoperative Care and clinical judgment Judgment The process of discovering or asserting an objective or intrinsic relation between two objects or concepts; a faculty or power that enables a person to make judgments; the process of bringing to light and asserting the implicit meaning of a concept; a critical evaluation of a person or situation. Psychiatric Assessment for testing still recommended as:
    • Streptococcal infection presents similarly to other etiologies.
    • Examination findings alone can lead to overtreatment with antibiotics.
  • In adults: 
    • Positive RADT: treatment is given
    • Negative RADT: no antibiotics; generally, culture is not needed (low incidence Incidence The number of new cases of a given disease during a given period in a specified population. It also is used for the rate at which new events occur in a defined population. It is differentiated from prevalence, which refers to all cases in the population at a given time. Measures of Disease Frequency of complications such as rheumatic fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever)
  • In children and adolescents:
    • Rule out viral symptoms.
    • Initial test with RADT
    • If RADT is negative, follow-up throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy culture is recommended (as RADT can miss up to 30%). 
    • If RADT is positive: Treat the infection.
    • Important to determine GAS infection as age group is at risk for rheumatic fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, glomerulonephritis, and suppurative complications

Work-up for other etiologies:

  • Infectious Infectious Febrile Infant mononucleosis Mononucleosis Infectious mononucleosis (IM), also known as “the kissing disease,” is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Its common name is derived from its main method of transmission: the spread of infected saliva via kissing. Clinical manifestations of IM include fever, tonsillar pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy. Mononucleosis:
    • Monospot (heterophile antibody test): positive in infection due to EBV EBV Epstein-barr virus (EBV) is a linear, double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the herpesviridae family. This highly prevalent virus is mostly transmitted through contact with oropharyngeal secretions from an infected individual. The virus can infect epithelial cells and B lymphocytes, where it can undergo lytic replication or latency. Epstein-Barr Virus
    • Complete blood count would show lymphocytosis Lymphocytosis WBCs develop from stem cells in the bone marrow and are called leukocytes when circulating in the bloodstream. Lymphocytes are 1 of the 5 subclasses of WBCs. Lymphocytosis is an increase in the number or proportion of the lymphocyte subclass of WBCs, often as a result of an immune response to infection (known as reactive lymphocytosis). Lymphocytosis.
  • If indicated by history and risk factors:
    • HIV HIV Anti-HIV Drugs test
    • Nucleic acid amplification Nucleic acid amplification Laboratory techniques that involve the in-vitro synthesis of many copies of DNA or RNA from one original template. Septic Arthritis test or culture for N. gonorrhea Gonorrhea Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the gram-negative bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae). Gonorrhea may be asymptomatic but commonly manifests as cervicitis or urethritis with less common presentations such as proctitis, conjunctivitis, or pharyngitis. Gonorrhea 
    • Potassium Potassium An element in the alkali group of metals with an atomic symbol k, atomic number 19, and atomic weight 39. 10. It is the chief cation in the intracellular fluid of muscle and other cells. Potassium ion is a strong electrolyte that plays a significant role in the regulation of fluid volume and maintenance of the water-electrolyte balance. Hyperkalemia hydroxide (KOH) preparation on oral lesion scrapings: budding Budding Mycology yeasts +/- hyphae Hyphae Microscopic threadlike filaments in fungi that are filled with a layer of protoplasm. Collectively, the hyphae make up the mycelium. Mycology in candidal infection

Management

Ancillary treatment

Viral infection

  • Supportive management
  • Viral illness with specific treatment available:
    • Influenza Influenza Influenza viruses are members of the Orthomyxoviridae family and the causative organisms of influenza, a highly contagious febrile respiratory disease. There are 3 primary influenza viruses (A, B, and C) and various subtypes, which are classified based on their virulent surface antigens, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). Influenza typically presents with a fever, myalgia, headache, and symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. Influenza Viruses/Influenza (for specific indications): oseltamivir Oseltamivir An acetamido cyclohexene that is a structural homolog of sialic acid and inhibits neuraminidase. Antivirals for Influenza, zanamivir Zanamivir A guanido-neuraminic acid that is used to inhibit neuraminidase. Antivirals for Influenza, baloxavir Baloxavir Antivirals for Influenza, peramivir Peramivir Antivirals for Influenza
    • HIV HIV Anti-HIV Drugs: initiate antiretroviral therapy Antiretroviral therapy Antiretroviral therapy (ART) targets the replication cycle of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and is classified based on the viral enzyme or mechanism that is inhibited. The goal of therapy is to suppress viral replication to reach the outcome of undetected viral load. Anti-HIV Drugs

Group A Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus infection

  • Penicillin V Penicillin V A broad-spectrum penicillin antibiotic used orally in the treatment of mild to moderate infections by susceptible gram-positive organisms. Penicillins or amoxicillin Amoxicillin A broad-spectrum semisynthetic antibiotic similar to ampicillin except that its resistance to gastric acid permits higher serum levels with oral administration. Penicillins; 1st-generation cephalosporin Cephalosporin Multidrug-resistant Organisms and Nosocomial Infections an alternative
  • Clindamycin Clindamycin An antibacterial agent that is a semisynthetic analog of lincomycin. Lincosamides/ clarithromycin Clarithromycin A semisynthetic macrolide antibiotic derived from erythromycin that is active against a variety of microorganisms. It can inhibit protein synthesis in bacteria by reversibly binding to the 50s ribosomal subunits. This inhibits the translocation of aminoacyl transfer-RNA and prevents peptide chain elongation. Macrolides and Ketolides/ azithromycin Azithromycin A semi-synthetic macrolide antibiotic structurally related to erythromycin. It has been used in the treatment of Mycobacterium avium intracellulare infections, toxoplasmosis, and cryptosporidiosis. Macrolides and Ketolides, if penicillin-allergic
  • Ampicillin Ampicillin Semi-synthetic derivative of penicillin that functions as an orally active broad-spectrum antibiotic. Penicillins should be avoided if mononucleosis Mononucleosis Infectious mononucleosis (IM), also known as “the kissing disease,” is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Its common name is derived from its main method of transmission: the spread of infected saliva via kissing. Clinical manifestations of IM include fever, tonsillar pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy. Mononucleosis is suspected (induces a generalized rash Rash Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever).
  • Prophylaxis Prophylaxis Cephalosporins (tonsillectomy) for recurrent streptococcal tonsillitis:
    • Indicated for patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship age 1–18 years (Paradise criteria):
      • 3 episodes yearly for 3 or more years
      • 5 episodes yearly for 2 years
      • 7 episodes in 1 year
    •  Episodes of tonsillitis should have documentation Documentation Systematic organization, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of specialized information, especially of a scientific or technical nature. It often involves authenticating or validating information. Advance Directives of ≥ 1 of the following:  
      • Temperature 38.3°C (101°F)
      • Cervical adenopathy
      • Tonsillar exudate Exudate Exudates are fluids, cells, or other cellular substances that are slowly discharged from blood vessels usually from inflamed tissues. Pleural Effusion
      • Positive test for GAS

Other bacterial infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease

  • Diphtheria Diphtheria Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae that most often results in respiratory disease with membranous inflammation of the pharynx, sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and weakness. The hallmark sign is a sheet of thick, gray material covering the back of the throat. Diphtheria: erythromycin Erythromycin A bacteriostatic antibiotic macrolide produced by streptomyces erythreus. Erythromycin a is considered its major active component. In sensitive organisms, it inhibits protein synthesis by binding to 50s ribosomal subunits. This binding process inhibits peptidyl transferase activity and interferes with translocation of amino acids during translation and assembly of proteins. Macrolides and Ketolides or penicillin G Penicillin G A penicillin derivative commonly used in the form of its sodium or potassium salts in the treatment of a variety of infections. It is effective against most gram-positive bacteria and against gram-negative cocci. It has also been used as an experimental convulsant because of its actions on gamma-aminobutyric acid mediated synaptic transmission. Penicillins/V 
  • Gonorrhea Gonorrhea Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the gram-negative bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae). Gonorrhea may be asymptomatic but commonly manifests as cervicitis or urethritis with less common presentations such as proctitis, conjunctivitis, or pharyngitis. Gonorrhea tonsillitis: ceftriaxone Ceftriaxone A broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic and cefotaxime derivative with a very long half-life and high penetrability to meninges, eyes and inner ears. Cephalosporins and azithromycin Azithromycin A semi-synthetic macrolide antibiotic structurally related to erythromycin. It has been used in the treatment of Mycobacterium avium intracellulare infections, toxoplasmosis, and cryptosporidiosis. Macrolides and Ketolides

Candidal infection (oropharyngeal thrush)

  • Topical agents: clotrimazole Clotrimazole An imidazole derivative with a broad spectrum of antimycotic activity. It inhibits biosynthesis of the sterol ergostol, an important component of fungal cell membranes. Its action leads to increased membrane permeability and apparent disruption of enzyme systems bound to the membrane. Azoles troche, miconazole Miconazole An imidazole antifungal agent that is used topically and by intravenous infusion. Azoles buccal tablet, nystatin Nystatin Macrolide antifungal antibiotic complex produced by streptomyces noursei, s. Aureus, and other streptomyces species. The biologically active components of the complex are nystatin a1, a2, and a3. Polyenes oral suspension
  • Systemic agents: fluconazole Fluconazole Triazole antifungal agent that is used to treat oropharyngeal candidiasis and cryptococcal meningitis in aids. Azoles

Clinical Relevance

The following are the complications associated with bacterial tonsillitis/ pharyngitis Pharyngitis Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the back of the throat (pharynx). Pharyngitis is usually caused by an upper respiratory tract infection, which is viral in most cases. It typically results in a sore throat and fever. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, headache, and hoarseness. Pharyngitis:

  • Acute otitis media Acute Otitis Media Acute otitis media is an infection in the middle ear characterized by mucosal inflammation and retention of fluid. The most common pathogens are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis. The condition can present with fever, otalgia, and diminished hearing. Acute Otitis Media: a painful type of ear infection that occurs when the middle ear Middle ear The space and structures directly internal to the tympanic membrane and external to the inner ear (labyrinth). Its major components include the auditory ossicles and the eustachian tube that connects the cavity of middle ear (tympanic cavity) to the upper part of the throat. Acute Otitis Media becomes inflamed and infected. This condition can occur from pharyngitis Pharyngitis Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the back of the throat (pharynx). Pharyngitis is usually caused by an upper respiratory tract infection, which is viral in most cases. It typically results in a sore throat and fever. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, headache, and hoarseness. Pharyngitis via travel along the eustachian tube Eustachian tube A narrow passageway that connects the upper part of the throat to the tympanic cavity. Ear: Anatomy.
  • Retropharyngeal abscess Abscess Accumulation of purulent material in tissues, organs, or circumscribed spaces, usually associated with signs of infection. Chronic Granulomatous Disease: a collection of pus inside the retropharyngeal space Retropharyngeal space Retropharyngeal Abscess, extending from local infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease or coming from trauma such as dental procedures. If present, it can spread rapidly, cause airway Airway ABCDE Assessment obstruction, and lead to death. Immediate diagnosis and treatment are essential.
  • Sepsis Sepsis Systemic inflammatory response syndrome with a proven or suspected infectious etiology. When sepsis is associated with organ dysfunction distant from the site of infection, it is called severe sepsis. When sepsis is accompanied by hypotension despite adequate fluid infusion, it is called septic shock. Sepsis and Septic Shock/ bacteremia Bacteremia The presence of viable bacteria circulating in the blood. Fever, chills, tachycardia, and tachypnea are common acute manifestations of bacteremia. The majority of cases are seen in already hospitalized patients, most of whom have underlying diseases or procedures which render their bloodstreams susceptible to invasion. Glycopeptides: fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, tachycardia Tachycardia Abnormally rapid heartbeat, usually with a heart rate above 100 beats per minute for adults. Tachycardia accompanied by disturbance in the cardiac depolarization (cardiac arrhythmia) is called tachyarrhythmia. Sepsis in Children, tachypnea Tachypnea Increased respiratory rate. Pulmonary Examination, hypotension Hypotension Hypotension is defined as low blood pressure, specifically < 90/60 mm Hg, and is most commonly a physiologic response. Hypotension may be mild, serious, or life threatening, depending on the cause. Hypotension, and/or altered mentation leading to systemic organ dysfunction. Sepsis Sepsis Systemic inflammatory response syndrome with a proven or suspected infectious etiology. When sepsis is associated with organ dysfunction distant from the site of infection, it is called severe sepsis. When sepsis is accompanied by hypotension despite adequate fluid infusion, it is called septic shock. Sepsis and Septic Shock results from bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology entering the bloodstream from a previously localized infection.
  • Cervical adenitis: inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation and infection in the lymph nodes Lymph Nodes They are oval or bean shaped bodies (1 – 30 mm in diameter) located along the lymphatic system. Lymphatic Drainage System: Anatomy in the cervical chain along the neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess. The condition can occur via translocation of bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology from the infected pharynx Pharynx The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy.
  • Peritonsillar abscess Abscess Accumulation of purulent material in tissues, organs, or circumscribed spaces, usually associated with signs of infection. Chronic Granulomatous Disease: also called quinsy Quinsy A peritonsillar abscess (PTA), also called quinsy, is a collection of pus between the capsule of the palatine tonsil and the pharyngeal muscles. A PTA is usually a complication of acute tonsillitis, an infection caused by group a Streptococci. Patients often present with a sore throat, trismus, and a muffled voice. Peritonsillar Abscess, a purulent collection between the capsule Capsule An envelope of loose gel surrounding a bacterial cell which is associated with the virulence of pathogenic bacteria. Some capsules have a well-defined border, whereas others form a slime layer that trails off into the medium. Most capsules consist of relatively simple polysaccharides but there are some bacteria whose capsules are made of polypeptides. Bacteroides of the palatine tonsil and the pharyngeal muscles Pharyngeal Muscles The muscles of the pharynx are voluntary muscles arranged in two layers. The external circular layer consists of three constrictors (superior, middle, and inferior). The internal longitudinal layer consists of the palatopharyngeus, the salpingopharyngeus, and the stylopharyngeus. During swallowing, the outer layer constricts the pharyngeal wall and the inner layer elevates pharynx and larynx. Pharynx: Anatomy. The condition presents with fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, sore throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy, and odynophagia Odynophagia Epiglottitis, and, on examination, a bulging is seen around (mostly superior) the pharyngeal tonsils.
  • Scarlet fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever: fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, sore throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy, strawberry tongue Strawberry tongue Kawasaki Disease, and generalized sandpaper rash Rash Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever due to hypersensitivity reaction to exotoxin produced by GAS. Early recognition of GAS pharyngitis Pharyngitis Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the back of the throat (pharynx). Pharyngitis is usually caused by an upper respiratory tract infection, which is viral in most cases. It typically results in a sore throat and fever. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, headache, and hoarseness. Pharyngitis and subsequent antibiotic treatment can prevent this complication.
  • Acute rheumatic fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever myocarditis Myocarditis Myocarditis is an inflammatory disease of the myocardium, which may occur alone or in association with a systemic process. There are numerous etiologies of myocarditis, but all lead to inflammation and myocyte injury, most often leading to signs and symptoms of heart failure. Myocarditis, valvulitis Valvulitis Rheumatic Fever (mitral regurgitation Regurgitation Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)), and valvular heart disease (mitral +/- aortic regurgitation Regurgitation Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)/ stenosis Stenosis Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)) due to antibody cross-reactivity from a GAS infection. Early recognition of GAS pharyngitis Pharyngitis Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the back of the throat (pharynx). Pharyngitis is usually caused by an upper respiratory tract infection, which is viral in most cases. It typically results in a sore throat and fever. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, headache, and hoarseness. Pharyngitis and subsequent antibiotic treatment can prevent this complication.
  • Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis ( PSGN PSGN Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (PSGN) is a type of nephritis that is caused by a prior infection with group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus (GAS). The clinical presentation of PSGN can range from asymptomatic, microscopic hematuria to full-blown acute nephritic syndrome, which is characterized by red-to-brown urine, proteinuria, edema, and acute kidney injury. Postinfectious Glomerulonephritis): a type 3 Type 3 Spinal Muscular Atrophy hypersensitivity reaction that can occur 1–3 weeks following initial GAS infection. Clinical presentation Presentation The position or orientation of the fetus at near term or during obstetric labor, determined by its relation to the spine of the mother and the birth canal. The normal position is a vertical, cephalic presentation with the fetal vertex flexed on the neck. Normal and Abnormal Labor includes microscopic/gross hematuria Hematuria Presence of blood in the urine. Renal Cell Carcinoma, edema Edema Edema is a condition in which excess serous fluid accumulates in the body cavity or interstitial space of connective tissues. Edema is a symptom observed in several medical conditions. It can be categorized into 2 types, namely, peripheral (in the extremities) and internal (in an organ or body cavity). Edema, and hypertension Hypertension Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common disease that manifests as elevated systemic arterial pressures. Hypertension is most often asymptomatic and is found incidentally as part of a routine physical examination or during triage for an unrelated medical encounter. Hypertension. Diagnosis is via elevated antibody titers to strep antigens and low C3 levels. 

The following conditions are differential diagnoses of tonsillitis:

  • Epiglottitis Epiglottitis Epiglottitis (or “supraglottitis”) is an inflammation of the epiglottis and adjacent supraglottic structures. The majority of cases are caused by bacterial infection. Symptoms are rapid in onset and severe. Epiglottitis: also presents with fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, sore throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy, and odynophagia Odynophagia Epiglottitis; however, the presence of lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy is lymph node enlargement (> 1 cm) and is benign and self-limited in most patients. Etiologies include malignancy, infection, and autoimmune disorders, as well as iatrogenic causes such as the use of certain medications. Generalized lymphadenopathy often indicates underlying systemic disease. Lymphadenopathy and exudate Exudate Exudates are fluids, cells, or other cellular substances that are slowly discharged from blood vessels usually from inflamed tissues. Pleural Effusion around the tonsils distinguishes tonsillitis from epiglottitis Epiglottitis Epiglottitis (or “supraglottitis”) is an inflammation of the epiglottis and adjacent supraglottic structures. The majority of cases are caused by bacterial infection. Symptoms are rapid in onset and severe. Epiglottitis.
  • Croup Croup Croup, also known as laryngotracheobronchitis, is a disease most commonly caused by a viral infection that leads to severe inflammation of the upper airway. It usually presents in children < 5 years of age. Patients develop a hoarse, "seal-like" barking cough and inspiratory stridor. Croup: also called laryngotracheobronchitis Laryngotracheobronchitis Croup, also known as laryngotracheobronchitis, is a disease most commonly caused by a viral infection that leads to severe inflammation of the upper airway. It usually presents in children < 5 years of age. Patients develop a hoarse, "seal-like" barking cough and inspiratory stridor. Croup. Croup Croup Croup, also known as laryngotracheobronchitis, is a disease most commonly caused by a viral infection that leads to severe inflammation of the upper airway. It usually presents in children < 5 years of age. Patients develop a hoarse, "seal-like" barking cough and inspiratory stridor. Croup is caused by a viral infection or, rarely, by a bacterial infection that results in swelling Swelling Inflammation inside the trachea Trachea The trachea is a tubular structure that forms part of the lower respiratory tract. The trachea is continuous superiorly with the larynx and inferiorly becomes the bronchial tree within the lungs. The trachea consists of a support frame of semicircular, or C-shaped, rings made out of hyaline cartilage and reinforced by collagenous connective tissue. Trachea: Anatomy. The infection interferes with normal breathing. Patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship develop a characteristic barking cough and stridor Stridor Laryngomalacia and Tracheomalacia, but can also have acute enlargement of the tonsils.
  • Lemierre’s syndrome: jugular vein suppurative thrombophlebitis, often caused by Fusobacterium Fusobacterium A genus of gram-negative, anaerobic, rod-shaped bacteria found in cavities of humans and other animals. No endospores are formed. Some species are pathogenic and occur in various purulent or gangrenous infections. Dog and Cat Bites necrophorum. Symptoms include high fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, unilateral neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess swelling Swelling Inflammation (which can be similar to lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy is lymph node enlargement (> 1 cm) and is benign and self-limited in most patients. Etiologies include malignancy, infection, and autoimmune disorders, as well as iatrogenic causes such as the use of certain medications. Generalized lymphadenopathy often indicates underlying systemic disease. Lymphadenopathy), and pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways with respiratory symptoms. This condition affects healthy adolescents and adults.

References

  1. Ashurst, J., Edgerly-Gibb, L. (2020). Streptococcal Pharyngitis. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525997/
  2. Kalra, M., Higgins, K., Perez, E. (2016). Common Questions about Streptococcal Pharyngitis. Am Fam Physician 94(1), 24-31.
  3. Mitchell, R., Archer, S., Ishman, S., et al. (2019). Clinical Practice Guideline: Tonsillectomy in Children (Update). Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, 160(1S), S1–S42. https://doi.org/10.1177/0194599818801757
  4. Shah, U., Meyers, A. (2020). Tonsillitis and Peritonsillar Abscess. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/871977-overview
  5. Wald, E., Edwards, M., Messner, A., Torchia, M. (2020). Group A streptococcal tonsillopharyngitis in children and adolescents: Clinical features and diagnosis. UpToDate. Retrieved from Dec 20, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/group-a-streptococcal-tonsillopharyngitis-in-children-and-adolescents-clinical-features-and-diagnosis

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