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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Use of Point-of-care Ultrasound in the Diagnosis of Pott’s Puffy Tumor: A Case Report


Introduction: Pott’s puffy tumor (PPT) is a rare clinical disease characterized by forehead swelling from a subperiosteal abscess coupled with frontal bone osteomyelitis. It is often associated with severe complications and poor outcomes if left undiagnosed; thus, rapid recognition is crucial. Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) may provide an alternative pathway to diagnosis. It can be performed rapidly at the bedside and assist in early screening of patients, identifying those with high suspicion for PPT and prioritizing imaging and consultation.

Case Report: A 59-yghb ar-old-male presented to the emergency department for evaluation of a “lump” on his forehead. He recently had a bifrontal craniotomy to de-bulk a polyp burden in an effort to manage his recurrent sinusitis. To further characterize the mass, a POCUS examination was performed by the treating emergency physician. The examination found a subcutaneous, hypoechoic fluid collection extending superficially along the frontal bone. A discontinuity in the surface of the frontal bone was visualized through which the collection appeared to extend. Given the heightened concern for PPT based on the POCUS examination findings, otolaryngology service was consulted and the patient was admitted for further imaging and treatment.

Conclusion: Pott’s puffy tumor is a rare diagnosis that has the potential for life-threatening complications. Timely diagnosis is imperative. Point-of-care ultrasound can easily be used to help identify patients with suspicion for PPT in the acute care setting and influence patient management with regard to obtaining further imaging and plans for early consultation.

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