Objective: To better define the clinical manifestations, radiologic imaging and the surgical management of cervical thymic lesions in children.
Study design: Multi-center retrospective case review.
Methods: The charts of all children with pathologically confirmed thymic lesions at six children's hospitals (1990-2002) were reviewed for demographics, physical findings, X-ray findings, operative outcomes and pathology.
Results: There were a total of 15 children, 2 of whom had ectopic cervical thymus and 13 who had thymic cysts. They ranged in age from 1 month to 18 years. Thymic lesions were more common in males. Ectopic cervical thymus was best defined by MRI whereas thymic cyst had a more consistent appearance on CT. All children had successful surgical resection with no recorded complications or recurrences.
Conclusions: Cervical thymic lesions are rare. Ectopic cervical thymus tends to be found primarily in infants whereas thymic cysts occur in a wider age range. Radiologic imaging is important but is not histologically specific. Definitive diagnosis and cure requires complete surgical excision.