There is still no consensus on the optimal management to treat pediatric mediastinitis. We assessed the efficacy of continuous irrigation and vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) for mediastinitis in children. This study retrospectively reviewed 20 patients aged <5 years with mediastinitis from December 2002 to December 2009. The median age at the onset was 12 months (0.6-60 months), and the median body weight was 6.9 kg (3.1-15.3 kg). Continuous irrigation was applied for extensive mediastinitis or unstable hemodynamic cases and VAC for localized or ineffective cases after continuous irrigation. A 2-4-week course of intravenous antibiotics was administered after sternal closure. Continuous irrigation was initially applied in 19 patients and VAC in one patient. VAC was employed in six patients because of recurrent or prolonged mediastinitis after continuous irrigation. All patients underwent direct sternal closure without any flap. The median duration of the hospital stay was 49.5 days (15-158 days). Although two patients died of low cardiac output, 18 children survived and had no recurrence after the discharge during a median follow-up of 14 months (1-81 months). The combination of continuous irrigation and VAC is, therefore, considered to be a safe and effective option to minimize the morbidity and mortality in pediatric mediastinitis.
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