Mediastinitis

Alternative Names

Chest infection

Definition of Mediastinitis

Mediastinitis is swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the area between the lungs (mediastinum). This area contains the heart, large blood vessels, windpipe (trachea), esophagus, thymus gland, lymph nodes, and connective tissues.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Mediastinitis is usually results from an infection. It may occur suddenly (acute) or may develop slowly and get worse over time (chronic). It most often occurs in patients who recently had an upper endoscopy or chest surgery.

Signs and tests

Some of the signs of mediastinitis in patients who have had recent surgery include:

Treatment

You may receive antibiotics if you have an infection.

Expectations (prognosis)

How well a person does depends on the cause of the mediastinitis.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 9/15/2010

Respiratory system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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