Background: Unilateral intratonsillar abscess (ITA) is an underreported, well-known complication of acute tonsillitis. The prevalence of unilateral ITA compared to peritonsillar abscess (PTA) is 1:14. However, bilateral ITA is an extremely rare entity, with only four cases reported thus far.
Objectives: To describe past cases and our experience, elaborating the diagnostic challenge and the surgical treatment for bilateral ITA.
Methods: We conducted a literature search in the PubMed database using the key words intra-tonsillar abscess, tonsillar abscess, bilateral tonsillar abscess, bilateral intra-tonsillar abscess and bilateral peritonsillar abscess. Our search was limited to the years 1980 to 2020.
Results: We found that only four cases of bilateral ITA were previously published. All were characterized by a delay in diagnosis with a median of 10 days (4–14 days), symmetrical oral cavity appearance, enlarged bilateral kissing tonsils, and subsequent treatment by surgical drainage/paracentesis. Respiratory compromise was a concern in most cases. Our patient was treated with bilateral quinsy tonsillectomy and had a prompt recovery.
Conclusions: Bilateral ITA is a rare, deceiving entity, with a diagnosis delay attributed to the symmetrical oral bulging. We present the fifth case reported and the first ever reported in a pediatric patient. We describe the assumed pathogenesis and the main characteristics among all five patients, emphasizing the important role of a high index of suspicion and appropriate imaging, guiding to proper diagnosis and treatment.