What is acute mediastinitis?
Acute mediastinitis is an uncommon but potentially life-threatening infectious condition that requires early diagnosis and treatment. In 90% of cases, it is secondary to esophageal rupture. Other causes include tumor necrosis, spread of infection from contiguous areas such as the neck, retroperitoneum, pleura, and lungs, or infection after thoracic surgery. Patients tend to be very ill with fever, chills, chest pain, and tachycardia, although some patients present with symptoms and signs that mimic other disease conditions. Therefore, a high index of suspicion is required in order to arrive at the correct diagnosis in a timely fashion.