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Bacterial Tracheitis

Bacterial Tracheitis is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • A tracheal infection potentially causing acute airway obstruction. Also known as bacterial croup and laryngotracheobronchitis. Exudative tracheitis can refer to a less severe form of disease
  • Usually secondary bacterial infection of trachea, complicating antecedent viral infection, or less commonly, instrumentation
  • Fatal in 0–20%
  • Tracheal membrane formation, purulent discharge, subglottic edema, erosions, with normal epiglottis
  • Classically presents with prodrome similar to croup followed by rapid deterioration and loss of airway patency
  • Mean age 5 yr; rarely occurs in adults
  • More common in children than epiglottitis, presumably due to success of Haemophilus influenzae immunization
  • More frequent August–December

Patients may present with a fairly benign course, followed by rapid deterioration, with respiratory distress, toxic appearance, and acute airway obstruction.


  • Staphylococcus aureus (with occ. methicillin-resistant S. aureus [MRSA])
  • Moraxella catarrhalis
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Group A streptococcal species
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • H. influenzae type B
  • Escherichia coli
  • Anaerobes
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Nocardia
  • Associated with influenza A (including H1N1) and B, parainfluenza, adenovirus, and RSV viral infections
  • Aspergillus, HSV in immunocompromised hosts (HIV)

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Bacterial Tracheitis." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307002/all/Bacterial_Tracheitis.
Bacterial Tracheitis. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307002/all/Bacterial_Tracheitis. Accessed April 23, 2019.
Bacterial Tracheitis. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307002/all/Bacterial_Tracheitis
Bacterial Tracheitis [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 23]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307002/all/Bacterial_Tracheitis.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Bacterial Tracheitis ID - 307002 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307002/all/Bacterial_Tracheitis PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -