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Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2014 Jun;271(6):1679-83. doi: 10.1007/s00405-013-2651-5. Epub 2013 Aug 8.

Deep neck infections: risk factors for mediastinal extension.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Faculty of Medicine in Hradec Kralove, University Hospital Hradec Kralove, Charles University in Prague, Sokolska 581, Hradec Kralove, 50005, Czech Republic.


The goal of the study was to find out the risk factors for the development of mediastinitis in patients with deep neck infections (DNI) and describe the differences in symptoms and clinical image between uncomplicated DNI and infections with mediastinal spread. Our study represents the retrospective analysis of 634 patients with DNI. The file was divided into two groups. There were 619 patients (97.6%) in the first group who had an uncomplicated course of DNI without spread of infection into mediastinum (DNI group). The second group included 15 patients (2.4%) with descending mediastinitis as a complication of DNI (mediastinitis group). The most frequent comorbidities were cardiac and pulmonary diseases, which were more frequent in the mediastinitis group comparing to DNI group. Dental origin of the infection was more frequent in DNI group than in the mediastinitis group. On the other hand, tonsillar origin of the infection was more frequent in the mediastinitis group than in DNI group. In both mediastinitis and DNI groups, the typical presenting symptoms were pain, oedema and dysphagia. Furthermore, dysphagia, dyspnoea, dysphonia and restriction of neck movements were more significant in the mediastinitis group than in DNI group. The incidence of airway obstruction, sepsis, pneumonia and death was significantly higher in the mediastinitis group than in DNI group. Due to our results, the predisposing factors for mediastinal extension of DNI are cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. Mediastinitis is associated with higher morbidity and mortality than DNI. The most common complications are airway obstruction, pneumonia and sepsis.

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