Ludwig's angina and steroid use: A narrative review

Abigail Tami, Sammy Othman, Architha Sudhakar, Brian J. McKinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Ludwig's angina, a rapidly progressive cellulitis causing airway obstruction, has traditionally been managed with antibiotics and surgical intervention. More controversial is the use of steroids in the management of patients with this condition. This article summarizes the literature of steroid use in the management of Ludwig's angina. Methods: The study used a narrative review method alongside the PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews. PubMed, Ovid Medline, Cochrane, and Web of Science were searched for cases of Ludwig's angina with documented steroid use in patient management. Inclusion criteria were articles in the English language with direct patient outcomes. There were 17 articles selected with 31 patient cases. Results: Most reports of steroid use in Ludwig's angina in the literature are case reports, with one retrospective review, and one letter to the editor. Dexamethasone was the steroid of choice in most cases reviewed. All patient cases reported used antibiotics alongside their steroid use, and 27 out of 31 patient cases required surgery. Most patients recovered with no further sequelae or complications. Three (9.68%) patients suffered mortality due to unrelated causes. Conclusions: Primary literature reporting the use of steroids in the management of Ludwig's angina includes few cases. While the role steroids have in these cases remains uncertain, the articles summarized do not suggest an adverse influence, and may suggest a benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102411
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Dexamethasone
  • Ludwig angina
  • Management
  • Odontogenic infection
  • Steroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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