Gonococcal pharyngitis is a mild and localized type of infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a gram-negative bacterial pathogen. Many patients are asymptomatic, and receptive oral sex is the predominant route of bacterial acquisition. The diagnosis can rarely be made based on clinical criteria, which is why a thorough patient history and appropriate microbiological studies are necessary.
Gonorrhea, after chlamydia infection, is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) worldwide, and various clinical presentations are described in the literature    . One of them is gonococcal pharyngitis, developing after transmission of bacteria through receptive oral intercourse, more commonly during fellatio than cunnilingus   . It is seen in approximately 3-7% of heterosexual males and in 10-25% of heterosexual women and men who are having sex with men (MSM) who already suffer from gonorrhea, and the clinical course is asymptomatic in up to 90% of cases    . Conversely, signs of acute pharyngitis or tonsillitis (fever, erythema of the throat and cervical lymphadenopathy) developing 3-4 days after acquisition of bacteria are encountered in symptomatic cases  . Many patients simultaneously suffer from a genital gonorrhea infection, thus localized genital symptoms apart from pharyngeal complaints (if they appear) are often present  . Although spontaneous resolution is seen in virtually all individuals, the diagnosis is not made in up to 26% of adolescent women, which is why many studies have advocated screening for gonococcal pharyngitis in patients who already exhibit some other type of infection  .
The diagnosis of a gonococcal pharyngitis may be difficult to make, as signs and symptoms are frequently absent. For this reason, physicians must be meticulous when examining patients with a possible diagnosis of an STD. Firstly, a detailed history should be obtained, with an emphasis on sexual activity and "risky" exposure, but also if any other symptoms (for example, genital or systemic signs of infection) are present. The importance of a properly obtained patient history lies in the fact that findings from physical examination are almost always normal, or point to a non-specific pharyngitis comprised of cervical lymphadenopathy and erythema. Thus, if adequate clinical suspicion exists, microbiological investigations should be carried out. In the setting of gonococcal pharyngitis, gram staining of the pharyngeal swab is one of the most widely used methods to detect N. gonorrhea, and the test is advised in all human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive individuals, particularly men who are having sex with men (MSM)   . Also, cultivation of swab samples has been regarded as a potential diagnostic method   . However, the asymptomatic nature of gonocococal pharyngitis and frequent coinfection of other organs and tissues has disputed the role of routine testing in clinical practice . Nevertheless, all patients in whom symptoms of pharyngitis develops shortly after receptive oral sex should undergo testing for gonococcal pharyngitis, primarily because it is an important source of further spread.