Background: Descending necrotizing mediastinitis is a rare but serious disease. Aggressive surgical approaches have been emphasized rather than simple medical treatment.
Methods: Four patients with descending necrotizing mediastinitis were treated surgically in our institution between January 2001 and August 2002. Three had peritonsilar abscesses and one had an odontogenic abscess. Operative procedures included drainage and debridement through a Chamberlain incision and neck incision using video-assisted thoracic surgery.
Results: The mean duration from symptoms to operation was 5.3 days (range, 3 to 7) and mean hospital stay was 28.8 days (range, 14 to 47). There was no perioperative mortality. Postoperative complications were found in three patents: two with localized pleural effusion and one with a hydropneumothorax.
Conclusions: Video-assisted thoracic surgery is feasible and effective as a less invasive method for the surgical management of patients with descending necrotizing mediastinitis, especially when applied early.