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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Anterior mediastinal abscess after closed sternal fracture.

BACKGROUND: Although sternal fractures after blunt chest trauma are markers for significant impact, the fracture itself is generally not associated with any specific wound complications. Mediastinal abscess and sternal osteomyelitis rarely occur after blunt trauma or cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Management of such complications is difficult, and requires a spectrum of operative procedures that range from simple closure to muscle flap reconstruction. METHODS: The trauma registry of a Level I trauma center was used to identify patients suffering a sternal fracture between January of 1994 and August of 1997. Records were reviewed for the mechanism of injury, length of hospital stay, and posttraumatic mediastinal abscess. RESULTS: Twenty-six patients were identified with sternal fracture. No clinically significant cardiac or aortic complications were noted. Three patients, all with a history of intravenous drug abuse and requiring central venous access in the emergency room, developed methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus mediastinitis. Sternal re-wiring and placement of an irrigation system successfully treated all three patients. CONCLUSION: Posttraumatic mediastinal abscess is an uncommon complication of blunt trauma in general and sternal fracture in particular. It can be recognized by the development of sternal instability. Risk factors include the presence of hematoma, intravenous drug abuse, and source of staphylococcal infection. Treatment with early debridement and irrigation can avoid the need for muscle flap closure.[1]


  1. Anterior mediastinal abscess after closed sternal fracture. Cuschieri, J., Kralovich, K.A., Patton, J.H., Horst, H.M., Obeid, F.N., Karmy-Jones, R. The Journal of trauma. (1999) [Pubmed]
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