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Lemierre's syndrome is an uncommon complication of pharyngitis in the United States and caused most commonly by the bacterium Fusobacterium necrophorum. The syndrome is characterized by a history of recent pharyngitis followed by ipsilateral internal jugular vein thrombosis and metastatic pulmonary abscesses and is a disease for which patients will seek medical care and advice. As most patients are admitted to the hospital under internal medicine, practitioners should be familiar with the usual signs and symptoms of Lemierre's syndrome along with its diagnosis and treatment. Controversy involves the choice and duration of antimicrobial therapy used for treatment and anticoagulation therapy for internal jugular vein thrombosis. As the diagnosis and management of this syndrome has generated controversy, an updated review of the literature and treatment recommendations may be helpful for providing optimal care for patients with this often unrecognized and confusing infection.

(C) 2012 Southern Medical Association