Pathology Post: Ludwig’s Angina

Ludwig’s angina is a serious cellulitis (bacterial tissue infection) of the submandibular region. Although it shares a name with ‘angina,’ this disease has very little to do with chest pain – in fact, this disease gets its name due to another reason completely. Angina is derived from the latin word ‘angere,’ meaning ‘to strangle.’ Ludwig’s angina can cause a rapid swelling around the throat and mandibular spaces, causing an obstruction of the patient’s airway. Because of this, Ludwig’s angina is a critical condition that can result in death.

How does someone get Ludwig’s angina?

70% of Ludwig’s angina cases develop from an abscess of a mandibular molar tooth. This can begin as simple as a cavity that has not been treated for a long period of time resulting in an endodontic infection. As the infection worsens, a massive swelling of the neck along with sublingual involvement can cause an elevation of the tongue.

What is the treatment for Ludwig’s angina?

If Ludwig’s angina is recognized by a dental professional, the patient should be immediately transported to the emergency hospital. Maintenance of the airway is the most important aspect of the disease, followed by incision and drainage. Antibiotic therapy should take care of the resulting infection after the airway has been managed.

To summarize:

  • Ludwig’s angina is a serious cellulitis that often originates from a mandibular tooth abscess
  • The condition can worsen causing an obstruction of the airway
  • Patient’s with this condition should be immediately sent to the emergency hospital

For more on the Pathology Series:


(n.d.) Inflammatory Jaw Lesions. Dr. Ali Pourian. A.T. Still Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health.

One response to “Pathology Post: Ludwig’s Angina”

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