Congenital anomalies of the tracheobronchial tree, lung, and mediastinum: embryology, radiology, and pathology

Radiographics. 2004 Jan-Feb;24(1):e17. doi: 10.1148/rg.e17. Epub 2003 Nov 10.


Congenital anomalies of the chest are an important cause of morbidity in infants, children, and even adults. The evaluation of affected patients frequently requires multiple imaging modalities to diagnose the anomaly and plan surgical correction. The authors analyze and illustrate practical aspects of certain common and uncommon congenital anomalies affecting the tracheobronchial tree, lung, and mediastinum, with emphasis on radiologic manifestations. Other thoracic anomalies such as rib anomalies and vascular rings are discussed when they are associated with anomalies of the tracheobronchial tree. The usefulness of the various imaging modalities in the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions is also evaluated. Specific topics addressed include tracheal conditions such as tracheal stenosis, tracheomalacia, tracheal bronchus, tracheal atresia, and bronchogenic cyst; anomalies of the lung such as lung underdevelopment (agenesis and hypoplasia), scimitar syndrome, congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation, congenital lobar emphysema, and pulmonary sequestration; esophageal anomalies such as esophageal atresia, tracheoesophageal fistula, and esophageal duplications; and vascular rings. The embryologic and pathologic basis of the radiologic findings are discussed in appropriate cases. Differential diagnoses, as well as pitfalls and diagnostic difficulties, are included.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteries / abnormalities
  • Bronchi / abnormalities*
  • Bronchi / embryology
  • Bronchi / pathology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Constriction, Pathologic / diagnostic imaging
  • Emphysema / congenital
  • Emphysema / diagnostic imaging
  • Esophagus / abnormalities
  • Esophagus / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Lung / abnormalities*
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / embryology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Mediastinum / abnormalities*
  • Mediastinum / diagnostic imaging
  • Mediastinum / embryology
  • Mediastinum / pathology
  • Radiography
  • Respiratory System / diagnostic imaging*
  • Respiratory System / embryology*
  • Trachea / abnormalities*
  • Trachea / diagnostic imaging
  • Trachea / embryology
  • Trachea / pathology
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / diagnosis
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / diagnostic imaging