Mediastinitis as a rare complication of an odontogenic infection. Report of a case

Acta Stomatol Belg. 1996 Sep;93(3):125-8.


Mediastinitis occasionally develops as a complication of cervical or odontogenic infections resulting in neck sepsis, which spreads to the mediastinum via the cervical facial planes. Nowadays, this rare complication of pyogenic orofacial infections has an high-unchanged mortality rate. Delayed diagnosis and inadequate mediastinal drainage are the primary causes of this high mortality rate. Aggressive empirical antibiotic combinations should be directed towards this polymicrobial process. Antibiotic therapy alone is inadequate and the mainstay of treatment is aggressive surgical drainage through cervical and thoracic approaches. The assessment and management of the airway is critical; most authors recommend early tracheostomy in a controlled fashion in all cases of serious neck infections with or without thoracic involvement. However, we consider tracheostomy not always necessary and we only perform it in patients with severe dyspnea from upper airway obstruction.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Focal Infection, Dental / complications*
  • Focal Infection, Dental / diagnosis
  • Focal Infection, Dental / therapy
  • Humans
  • Mandible
  • Mediastinitis / diagnosis
  • Mediastinitis / etiology*
  • Mediastinitis / therapy
  • Molar, Third
  • Pericoronitis / complications*
  • Pericoronitis / diagnosis
  • Pericoronitis / therapy
  • Streptococcal Infections / complications*
  • Streptococcal Infections / diagnosis
  • Streptococcal Infections / therapy