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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.
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.
Patients may have a tear in their esophagus that causes mediastinitis. Causes of the tear include:
Other causes of mediastinitis include:
Risk factors include:
Park DR, Vallieres E. Pneumomediastinum and mediastinitis. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al.. Murray & Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010: chap 77.
Celli BR. Diseases of the diaphragm, chest wall, pleura, and mediastinum. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 100.
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