Between 1990-1999, six patients (mean age, 41.5 years) with the diagnosis of descending necrotizing mediastinitis were surgically treated at our institution. All patients underwent cervical drainage plus an aggressive mediastinal debridement and drainage via posterolateral thoracotomy. The outcome was favorable in all cases. All patients received initially a high dose of broad-spectrum antibiotics. In four patients, a tracheostomy was necessary for respiratory management. We also review the literature.