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Descending necrotising mediastinitis: a report of misdiagnosis as thoracic aortic dissection
  1. S-L Chou1,
  2. C-H Chern1,
  3. J-D Chen2,
  4. C-K How1,
  5. L-M Wang1,
  6. C-H Lee1
  1. 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Veterans General Hospital-Taipei, National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan, ROC
  2. 2Department of Radiology, Veterans General Hospital-Taipei
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr C-H Chern
 Department of Emergency Medicine, Veterans General Hospital-Taipei, Taiwan, ROC (112);


Descending necrotising mediastinitis is an uncommon disease in the emergency department. Early recognition is important for a good prognosis for this fatal condition. This report describes a case of a healthy 79 year old woman who was seen in the urgent care centre with the initial presentation of chest pain. Misdiagnosis was made because of the mis-reading of a flap-like artefact over the ascending aorta and difficulty interpreting subtle change of mediastinal soft tissue infiltration. The patient was then treated as dissecting aneurysm over ascending aorta until her condition deteriorated. Although aggressive treatment comprising thoracotomy, cervical incision and drainage, and antibiotics were begun, the response was poor. Emergency physicians should be familiar with this rare but highly lethal disease. Correlation should be made in a patient complaining about chest pain, especially combined with fever, sore throat, dysphagia, or neck swelling.

  • descending necrotising mediastinitis
  • mediastinitis
  • acute tonsillitis
  • peritonsillar abscess
  • chest pain

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