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Mediastinitis can be an acute or chronic process. Acute mediastinitis can result from esophageal perforation or after cardiac surgery with median sternotomy. Esophageal perforation can occur spontaneously or iatrogenically; surgical exploration of the mediastinum, repair of the esophageal perforation, and drainage of the pleural space and mediastinum are required. Mediastinitis after median sternotomy typically presents with wound drainage and is diagnosed by mediastinal needle aspiration. Treatment requires immediate drainage, debridement, and IV antibiotics.